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Branston reduces mains water usage by more than half

12 August 2011

Potato company Branston has installed a £1 million water recycling plant at its Ilminster site – and is already reducing its mains water usage by thousands of litres a day

Branston, the buyer and packer of potatoes, has installed the water recycling plant and chilling system as part of its continuing commitment to the environment. Since the plant’s installation, Branston is already saving 41 cubic metres of mains water every day - the equivalent of 230 baths or enough water to fill a large swimming pool.

Ian Wait, general manager at the Branston site, said: “To wash potatoes which come into the plant from local producers, we were using a mix of borehole and mains water. This topped around 79 cubic metres each day – so we decided to look at the way we used water on site and how we could reduce our mains water usage.

“By working with several local agencies, we have successfully created a water recycling unit which, after just a few months of being up and running, is reducing our mains water usage by an incredible 52%.

“Not only that, but the plant has a specialised chilling system which keeps the water at 8 to 10 degrees Celsius which is the ideal temperature for washing potatoes.”

Branston’s new recycling system treats the waste water from washing potatoes by removing the soil. The water then passes through a state-of-the-art membrane bioreactor for further filtration. The recycled water is then stored and used on site to wash potatoes.

Branston fully expects mains water savings to increase over the coming months and is aiming for a 60% reduction. Not only is Branston now using less mains water for washing potatoes – but it is putting less effluent back into the public sewer. The recycling unit is also allowing Branston to put cleaner water back into the sewer.

Branston received £55,000 in funding from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg project Water Adaptation is Valuable for Everybody (WAVE), a partnership project supported by Somerset County Council and The UK Farming and Advisory Group (FWAG) which is helping Branston to reduce its effluent discharge by at least 80%.

Councillor David Hall, cabinet member for Strategic Planning and Economic Development at Somerset County Council, said: “We are pleased to work with farmers to help reduce water consumption.

“With hotter drier summers being forecast for the future, water consumption is something that farmers are becoming very aware of. Through the WAVE project we are able to claim up to 50% of the costs back from Europe and Branston is one of five demonstration projects locally being funded through this particular project.”

The water recycling plant is part of a larger commitment by Branston to make it more sustainable. It follows the success of Branston’s sister site in Lincolnshire where a water recycling plant and anaerobic digestion plant have been installed.

Branston projects director Vee Gururajan said: “As a company which relies on the environment, Branston is keen to focus on reducing the company’s impact on the environment and lowering its carbon emissions.

“After successful changing the way we do things at our head office in Lincolnshire, and installing a number of ‘green’ initiatives, we are now looking to make changes at all our UK sites.”

Branston was the first company in produce to receive ISO 14001 accreditation at its three sites in Somerset, Lincolnshire and Scotland. In 2008, Branston became the first company in the food sector to get the Carbon Trust Standard in recognition of its environmental initiatives.

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