New toolkit to help food manufacturers cut water use

Posted by Isobel Drake on 16th February 2009

A practical new toolkit developed by RMIT University researchers is set to help food manufacturers cut their water use by identifying the processes that use the most water and the changes they can make to reduce their consumption.Supported by the Smart Water Fund, the Water Saver Toolkit was developed in conjunction with the Plenty Food Group, the City of Whittlesea, the City of Hume, Yarra Valley Water and several industrial food manufacturers.

Dr Nira Jayasuriya, from RMIT’s School of Civil, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, said the online toolkit gave small to medium-sized food manufacturers detailed information on their options for cutting water consumption and the estimated return on investments related to particular water-saving measures.

“Food processing uses more water than any other industry around Australia, consuming more than 241 billion litres of water each year,” Dr Jayasuriya noted. “In Victoria, any businesses that use more than 10 million litres a year must prepare a water-saving plan but smaller firms are exempt from this rule.”

“These businesses usually don’t have the expertise or the financial resources necessary to develop water sustainability plans,” Dr Jayasuriya said. “This toolkit will give small business owners a practical understanding of their water use and show them where they can affordably implement water savings.”

The toolkit works by first classifying businesses according to the food product they manufacture and establishing the relevant water performance benchmarks.

The program takes users through a series of windows to determine how water is used in manufacturing, comparing the various processes with industry benchmarks and cross-checking the total volume consumed with actual billing data.

Businesses are then presented with a range of water saving options – including using alternative sources such as rainwater – that meet the strict regulations involved in food manufacturing.

More details about the toolkit can be found by clicking here.