Water stewardship

Water stewardship

Water stewardship is a central part of our sustainability work. Water stewardship refers to water use and protection of water, taking into account environmental, economic, cultural and social equity. At S Group, water stewardship work covers our outlets, procurement and value chain. Water stewardship includes the use of water, access to water, hygiene and sanitation, water used in production or included in products, and the treatment of wastewater. Promoting water stewardship locally requires cooperation with the operators in the catchment area.

Water stewardship for our own outlets

Key aspects of water management in our own outlets include urban runoff and any other observations arising from nature impact assessments conducted during construction projects. The environmental permits of our outlets located in groundwater areas and near waterbodies have accounted for water-related risks and preparations for them. In particular, the water stewardship risks from fuel sales are taken into account through permit procedures and preparation for emergencies. All wastewater from our outlets is directed to municipal wastewater treatment. The highest water consumption at our outlets is in hotels (water used by customers) and ABC stations (car wash lines).

Examples of our water stewardship actions at our outlets

ABC Service stations

  • All ABC service stations have taken leakage and spill risks into account, whether the distribution station has an environmental permit or is otherwise registered. In addition, ABC service stations have guidelines for the management of spill and leakage or other emergencies.
  • All of HOK-Elanto’s three ABC car washes (Kaari, Nihtisilta and Porttipuisto) are certified with a Swan ecolabel that also applies to the car wash operations. The 13 traditional car wash facilities of HOK-Elanto’s ABC service stations also use only biodegradable and ecolabelled chemicals. The car wash ecolabel is based on the reduction of water consumption and chemicals emissions.


  • All Sokos Hotels and Radisson Blu hotels have the Green Key symbol, which means they meet the water-related Green Key basic criteria. Green Key’s water-related requirements include water-saving water fixtures and practices.
  • In 2019, Sokos Hotels stopped providing bottled water in hotel rooms as well as distributing free-of-charge bottled water for conferences. Sokos Hotels encourage the use of tap water and approximately half of the hotels have their own carbonators for water.
  • The Radisson Blu hotel chain has participated in the Just a Drop water saving programme since 2017. In addition, only tap water is used in the hotels’ restaurants and meeting facilities. Both regular and sparkling water are available from the taps.

Water stewardship in our value chain

We have conducted a risk review for our product categories using the WWF Water Risk Filter tool and CDP Water Matrix and identified fuels, textiles, footwear and certain food products to be our most significant product groups in terms of water use. Fuel-related water risks primarily relate to the production of the raw material. In our water stewardship work, we want to focus first on understanding our positive and negative impact and our potential to influence them. Instead of setting restrictions, it is important in water stewardship work to support the value chain in more sustainable water use and cooperate with other operators in the catchment area.


Examples of our water stewardship actions in our value chain

  • We support regenerative agriculture in the Baltic Sea Action Group project > We joined the Alliance for Water Stewardship collaboration network in 2022.
  • Since 2022, we have been involved in promoting water stewardship for the Finnish Environment Institute’s food chain, aiming to find new ways for operators and the value chain to improve the condition of waterbodies and promote the sustainable use of water in Finland.
  • Since 2019, we have been a member of the Better Cotton initiative, which aims to promote more sustainable farming methods, such as reasonable use of water and chemicals.
  • Some cooperatives have made individual donations for causes such as protection of the Baltic Sea as well as restoration projects of local waterbodies. Suur-Seutu Cooperative Society is currently involved in the three-year restoration project of the Siuntionjoki river.
  • We are taking part in the MAP project of the University of Eastern Finland, which aims to develop microplastic analysis and removal methods for industrial quality control.

Product and raw material certification as part of water stewardship

With different raw material and product certifications, we can verify the social and environmental responsibility of our products. We have set certification requirements especially for our private-label products. For example, the criteria of Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certificates set requirements for water consumption in addition to other environmental criteria and guide farmers in the continuous improvement of water resources and wastewater management. In addition, the Roundtable for Sustai - nable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification of responsible palm oil, the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) and ProTerra set many requirements for farmers, including on the adequacy, management and quality of water.

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