Food and beverage firms slash water use

Posted by James Ferre on 14th July 2009

Almost 500,000 cubic metres of water – equivalent to nearly 200 Olympic swimming pools – has already been saved as thirty six of the UK’s leading food and drink manufacturers report their first full year progress on the voluntary Federation House Commitment (FHC) on water efficiency.This marks the sector’s first step towards achieving a 20% reduction in water use by 2020 compared to 2007, working with sustainability experts Envirowise who jointly launched the initiative with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) in January 2008.

Companies including Cranswick Food Group, Dairy Crest, Mars UK, United Biscuits, and Walkers have contributed to a collective reduction in water use of 1.7% during 2008. Together signatories will have saved almost £500,000 (A$1,039,000) in the purchase of water alone, not including the cost of water treatment and effluent disposal.

“The food and drink manufacturing sector is a significant water user and has an important role to play in helping to reduce stress on the nation’s water supplies. While there is still much to be done to achieve the 20% by 2020 target, we are delighted to see FHC members already making a positive impact on the environment,” Andrew Kuyk, Director of Sustainability and Competitiveness at the Food and Drink Federation, said.

Water-saving measures being implemented by FHC members include improving water recovery and re-use, rainwater harvesting, cleaning-in-place and dry cleaning operations – as well as domestic changes such as fitting more efficient taps and toilets.

“The opportunities for water saving range from simple low-cost solutions through to those which require capital investment and greater lead-in times – offering benefits over the longer term,” Claire Sweeney, Envirowise Water Specialist, advised. “We’d be delighted to hear from other food and drink manufacturers keen to get involved in the FHC to share in the best practice and make savings.”