Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM Are Getting Into the Water Business

Apr 29, 2011 10:45 AM ET

Why GE, Coca-Cola, and IBM Are Getting Into the Water Business

Water is becoming a high-stakes business where there's money to be made everywhere you look -- from greasy wool to microchips.

In the rangeland of Australia, sheep get frightfully dirty. They roam the outback among all manner of plants, trees, and scrub; they loll in the dirt; they sleep on the ground; they roll in their own poop. They shower only if it happens to rain.
So when these sheep get sheared -- and Australia is still the largest producer of wool in the world -- the fresh wool is grubby. Raw wool is called "greasy wool," because in addition to dirt, the wool is coated with the sheep's natural protection, lanolin. A specialized industry exists to clean it. The big Michell Wool scouring plant in Salisbury, a suburb north of Adelaide, uses almost a megaliter of water (264,000 gallons) a day -- about what 750 families use.

Continue reading the original article on Fast Company about why companies such as GE and Coca-Cola are wanting to penetrate the water business.


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