Being wiser on water can serve up a greater saving for manufacturers – including on carbon emissions

Manufacturers are making progress with water efficiency in the UK – with a 39% decrease in water use and 47% drop per tonne of product, according to statistics published for the food and drink sector in the last year*

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And as those leading in the sector – the largest manufacturing sector in the UK – are recognised at the Food and Drink Federation Awards, Water Plus outlines areas for further opportunities that lie ahead.

As part of its Cleaner Climate Promise, Water Plus, the largest water retailer in the UK, has been working with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) this year to search for companies making the biggest steps to help lower impacts on the environment, which includes making any water use go much further.

Leading companies in the food and drink sector taking more steps on sustainability are being highlighted from September onwards, to encourage further action to help reduce impacts on the environment.

Barry McGovaney, Innovation and Technology Manager and Sustainability Lead at Water Plus, joined the judging panel for the Sustainable Packaging Award category, this year, for the Food and Drink Awards.

He said: “Manufacturers are harnessing the power of water more and more, seeing the opportunities and wider benefits greater water efficiency can have – not only on running costs, but Scope 3 and other emissions too. From reusing water from processes and washing products, to reduce the amount of freshwater needed – and cutting wastewater volumes needing to be treated – to other options, there are a range of areas to consider to deliver greater efficiency.

“Energy is on the mind for many, so any water efficiency gains around hot water use, or even moving less water around sites using pumps, can all help reduce energy use.

“From reusing water for cooling, or other things, to optimising pressure, controlling overflows and auto shut offs – and fixing leaks, there are a number of ways food and drink, along with other manufacturers, can increase the power in water and reduce carbon linked to organisations.”

The work between the Water Plus Advanced Services team and organisations in the UK – including installing data loggers on water meters in the last year, which feed information into a smart online portal, has resulted in around £4 million of additional water waste being stopped in the space of just 17 months (and a billion litres of water stopped from being lost unnecessarily)*. Water Plus is also now a Green World Ambassador, after winning a Green Apple Environment award in November 2021, as it raises awareness and encourages further progress around water efficiency and reducing impacts on the planet.

The FDF’s Head of Climate Change & Energy Policy Emma Piercy said: “The FDF is working collaboratively across the supply chain on initiatives including water efficiency and reducing food waste, as we aim to make our industry Net Zero by 2030. We look forward to working with Water Plus to highlight further information and to support our wider work to help reduce carbon emissions across the sector.”

Between 2007 and 2021, FDF members reduced their absolute water consumption by more than one third (39.5%) and the amount of water consumed per tonne of product was also reduced by 47.5% in the same period*. Latest FDF data, published this year, showed there are more than 475,000 people employed in the sector and more than 11,600 food and drink manufacturing businesses in the UK.

You can read more about what you can do with water here. To contact the Advanced Services and proactive water management team at Water Plus, email [email protected] .

Additional notes and further information:

*Source for figures: FDF report published in 2021. Figures for 2007 to 2021 on water use decrease. Report copyright The Food and Drink Federation www.fdf.org.uk . See statistics published by the FDF on 6 July, 2022, on the food and drink sector, including its size and how much it contributed to the economy in 2021, published on FDF website.

* From 1st January 2021 to 26th May 2022, water loss totalling 1333399.46 m3 at an approximate cost of £4m – has now been stopped due to Water Plus engagement with organisations (statistic based on actual water meter readings for water loss that has been stopped). There are 1,000 litres in a cubic metre of water.