With WhiteWater now placing an urgent focus on sustainability across the water park industry, a corporate-wide, structured approach has been introduced, called the Sustainability Scorecard. Our Scorecard consists of four parts: Corporate, Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Parks and Products, and Social Responsibility. This is part one of a five-part series, which we hope, will motivate players across the industry to take inspiration and join in with their own sustainability efforts.
Creating fun today cannot borrow from the future.
This year, as WhiteWater reflects on our successful 40 years in business, we look to the next 40 years, not just for ourselves, but for the water attractions industry as a whole.
It’s time for all of us to confront, head on, the fact that water parks consume much power and resources to entertain. As the feedback loop in our industry is a long one—meaning the impact of changes made today may not be seen until many years down the road—and we only have one planet to live on, we need to act now to ensure the sustainability of all our businesses.
In other words, sustainability is an urgent issue.
Structured Approach to Initiating Sustainable Change
As the world’s largest water park manufacturer, we need to both hold ourselves accountable and help others in our industry to become more sustainable, up and down the value chain.
How are we doing this? First, we take a hard look at ourselves; we do not need all the answers to start. WhiteWater is initiating a corporate-wide commitment to implement environmentally sustainable practices, answering to the objectives outlined in our newly established Sustainability Scorecard.
The Scorecard is defined in four parts: Corporate, Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Parks and Products, and Social Responsibility. Each part is headed by a sub-committee made up of employees who have the passion and expertise in these areas. They collaborate to establish baseline metrics and achieve interim milestones that keep the momentum going until we realize our long-term goals.
Pursuing ISO 14001
The Corporate area of our Sustainability Scorecard covers WhiteWater’s day-to-day operations. This includes everything from the way we operate our buildings and factories to the materials we use and dispose of. “We consider everything in our carbon footprint, from the impact of our trade shows, where we use hotel rooms and build booths, to air travel and rental cars for client meetings,” said Emily Colombo, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships.
If you want to make changes, you need to know your starting points. “This is why we’re doing comprehensive audits throughout the organization,” said Dave Burgess, Senior Manager of Product Management. “We need to know how we’re doing at the present time so that we can identify opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation.”
To improve our corporate practices, WhiteWater plans to meet the ISO 14001 standard for waste reduction and improved environmental management. “To achieve this standard, we need to consider biodegradable and environmentally friendly alternatives for all of our raw materials,” said Senior Project Manager, Katrina Kalashnikova. “We need to make our end products truly greener with less impact on the environment.”
Halve the Waste by 2030, Net Zero by 2040
The second part of WhiteWater’s Sustainability Scorecard captures all manufacturing and supply chain aspects. Recognizing that we use fiberglass in our manufacturing, finding greener ways to make our products is a challenge we have to accept. Already, we are using an automated resin transfer molding system to produce fiberglass parts that result in less waste and fewer emissions compared to the commonly used “open mold” approach.
Still, improving WhiteWater’s manufacturing processes to make them more sustainable is no easy feat, especially since “we have committed to cutting the amount of waste we produce in half by 2030, and to a ‘net zero’ level by 2040,” said President, Paul Chutter. “We also want to see the same kind of performance in our supply chain. This is why we will work very closely with our suppliers to help them achieve these goals in their own operations.”
“Our products need to be environmentally efficient in all respects, from raw materials to energy consumption and end-of-life solutions,” said Product Systems Manager, Kelly Williams. “We are looking to minimize all of these impacts. Thankfully, it is a mindset already built into our new product development processes.”
Become the Water Parks’ Partner in Sustainability
At the same time WhiteWater is examining internally to make our manufacturing processes greener, we are looking downstream at how to help water parks implement sustainable actions. This is the focus of the Parks and Products aspect of the Sustainability Scorecard.
“Our goal is to do our part to help water parks become ‘climate neutral’ through a number of attainable, practical strategies,” said Chief Operating Officer, Onno Meeter. Viable options include installing solar panels for stand-alone kiosks and POS terminals as well as investing in technology that helps parks run more efficiently and save money in the long run.
It would require that customers also look at lifetime value costs, not just the purchase price, when making buying decisions. Other ways of helping water parks with their sustainability goals include minimizing splash through wave catchers and risers, mitigating water loss, slowing water evaporation, reducing the amount of chemicals used, and maintaining equipment, such as fiberglass water slides, to last for 20 or 30 years.
Retrofitting can also be an option for parks to make existing attractions operate more sustainably and efficiently. For example, by using a variable frequency drive in a wave pool, operators will see an immediate reduction in their electricity bill.
Some changes that help save resources can also elevate the fun factor. For example: “We have found that our ‘cause and effect’ water play features where foot or hand activation turns a water jet or tipper improve the play value and reduce water usage. And we’ve experimented with increasing the auto play time intervals for tipping buckets in water play zones,” said Colombo. “Not only does it reduce energy usage, but it heightens anticipation among the kids waiting for the water to pour onto their heads!”
Donating 1% of Corporate Profits
Social Responsibility makes up the fourth part of the Sustainability Scorecard.
“To make a meaningful difference in combatting climate change, WhiteWater will be contributing 1% of our net corporate profits to non-profit partners focused on water sustainability,” said Chutter. “We feel that this is an additional lever we can use to help protect the sustainability and health of the planet. Water is at the heart of our business; we love it, and we should protect it.”
In addition to monetary contributions, the company is also encouraging employees to engage in social responsibility as a way of life. Company-sponsored team activities include river trail maintenance, beach clean-ups, and recycling drives, with more in the planning.
Invitation to Collaborate
With our Sustainability Scorecard, WhiteWater aims to approach environmental issues in a meaningful and structured way, as well as encourage others in the attractions industry to put our minds together to tackle this challenge.
After all, being sustainable today means we can continue to create fun in the future.
In the next blog, we’ll take a closer look at the “Corporate” part of our Sustainability Scorecard.
Read more about WhiteWater’s sustainability commitment at https://www.whitewaterwest.com/sustainability.