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Forgotten link between water and energy

02 June 2010

When it comes to sustainability, eliminating water waste is an overlooked strategy for improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon

Author: Shawn Coles is the Founder of Water Saving Week (12-18 June 2010), a Defra-supported campaign to highlight awareness of water waste.

The food processing industry is a substantial water user, requiring water for rinsing, cooling, steam heating and general sanitation onsite. What is often forgotten, however, is that this water demand is matched by an energy demand. When a staff member turns on a tap onsite, it’s hot water they tend to use, and, during food manufacture, hot water ensures hygiene and proper processing.

Generating this hot water requires energy from fossil fuels, which contributes to an organisation’s carbon footprint. Cutting down on any water that is being wasted onsite is, therefore, an important strategy for improving energy efficiency.

It’s a popular misconception that water-saving measures need to be big and expensive. In fact, small changes can make a big difference: fixing a dripping tap can save as much as 5,000 litres of water a year. The simplest way to begin saving water is to know exactly where all the water onsite is going. Metering helps to identify water leaks, damaged equipment and areas where excess water is being used.

Once all the leaks have been plugged, reducing water waste onsite can take three main forms: investing in equipment that improves water efficiency (such as waterless urinals); recycling or reusing water (either harvested rainwater or water used during onsite processing); and ‘behavioural change’ campaigns to encourage staff members to use water more efficiently.

Water Saving Week 2010, which runs from the 12-18 June, provides an opportunity to kick-start a behavioural change campaign onsite. Now in its second year, Water Saving Week is a Defra-supported campaign to raise awareness of water waste. We are encouraging water users of all kinds to log onto the Water Saving Week website to find water-saving tips and make a pledge to cut water waste – and, in doing so, reduce their energy consumption.

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