Water inefficiency costing UK food and drink companies up to ₤160,000 a day - report

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

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Water inefficiency costing UK food and drink companies up to ₤160,000 a day - report
Food and drink producers in the UK may be pouring up to ₤160,000 a day down the drain by failing to maximise the potential for water efficiency, according to Envirowise.

The sustainable business body said companies could slash their water bills by almost a third, freeing up vital cash in the current economic downturn - and suggested the UK’s food and drink industry is losing out on combined annual cost savings of over ₤58m.

No water reduction targets

A survey on water efficiency found nearly two thirds of companies did not currently measure or keep track of the water they use in any way, said the UK Government-funded programme designed to promote and improve sustainability in businesses. The organisation also found that 85 per cent of food and drink firms have no water reduction targets in place.

Claire Sweeney, Envirowise Water Specialist, said: “Although many food & drink manufacturers have made strong progress on reducing their water use, there are still opportunities for more companies in the sector to reap the benefits.”

In order help companies boost their water efficiency, Envirowise is urging food and drink businesses to sign up to​Rippleffect​a free efficiency scheme to help then identify simple water savings and then measure the cost they make. The closing date for registration is 14 September and the programme will be delivered in three on-line modules over six months.

Water saving ideas

The body said companies would be encouraged to detail their water use and then would discuss ideas with Envirowise experts on where savings could be made.

“We start with domestic use within firms, such as the installing water saving devices in toilets, and fixing leaks,”​ Sweeney told FoodProductionDaily.com.

She added: “Depending on the business, we look at processing issues and specific efficiency savings such as fitting triggers to hoses, or even whether they could employ a dry process instead. If a company has not addressed its water issue before, the average saving can typically be 30 percent.”

The initiative will also hand out water efficiency advice on issues such as rainwater harvesting, vehicle washing, as well as boiling and cooling tower operation.

Missed opportunity

Sweeney said: “We were surprised to see that more than half of the businesses surveyed in the UK did not believe it was possible to reduce their water bill at all by improving water efficiency. This is clearly a missed opportunity and one that offers valuable cost saving potential, as well as reputational benefits for companies taking action.”

A spokesperson from the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) told FoodProductionDaily.com it backed the scheme and was also working with Envirowise on a separate initiative to improve water efficiency called the Federation House Commitment (FHC).

“As part of our Five-fold Environmental Ambition, members of the FDF are seeking to reduce overall water usage (outside of that embedded in products) across the food and drink industry by 20% by 2020. Companies who have signed up to the FHC are making strong progress," ​said the FDF

Business can sign up to Rippleffect at www.envirowise.gov.uk/rippleffect

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