Manufacturing water footprint


Siemens Technology Ltd has published a short article on Water OnLine describing their Top 5 Tips to reduce water footprint in industry. Tips include carefully monitoring water use, treating water as a valuable resource, recycling and reusing where possible and reducing consumption.

Audit your water usage: review all the sources of water use within your plant from intake to discharge. Don't limit your review to only major production processes. Remember utility water, irrigation, boiler feed water and wash water. Fully understanding how and where you use water mitigates risk, which could result in operational shut-downs or costly regulatory impacts. Annually review your water management strategy. Where it makes sense, take steps to reduce your water footprint. Seek expert advice. There are technologies available to treat water to virtually any specification, offering sustainable solutions to both manufacturers and communities.

Treat water as a valuable resource: treated water isn't free, but a valuable resource. It takes energy and technological resources to treat water to quality specifications for manufacturing. Industry, agriculture and cities are all using and competing for the same water source. Statistics show that more than 47% of the world's population by 2030 will be living in areas of high water stress. The more industry can tightly manage their water usage and reduce their water footprint, the better. North America is the largest user of water with approximately 1,800 gallons per day per person (including agriculture and industry).

Reuse and recycle your water: this doesn't have to mean full-scale wastewater reuse or zero discharge; capturing and recycling water during the manufacturing process can reduce water use by millions of gallons per year, as well as save money. An audit can identify simple ways to easily capture and reuse water without extensive capital investment. Through better water management, companies can even enhance or protect their public image by understanding the impact of their use of the precious resource on the community at large. For example: one beverage manufacturer re-captured the water they were using for bottle washing. By recycling and reusing the water, instead of it simply going down the drain, they were able to save 25,000 gallons per day.

Reduce your waste: increasing regulatory environment and discharge fees can create additional costs for manufacturers. An effective water management strategy can help decrease your water footprint, thereby reducing waste and discharge, meet regulatory requirements and reducing business risk and impact to the environment. One biopharmaceutical manufacturer recovered its waste stream and reused its feedwater, which allowed the company to recover more than 52 million gallons per year.

Consider the water/energy link: treating water is an energy-intensive activity. Energy costs are nearly 30% of the operations costs at water treatment facilities. Technology advancements such as better automation and more reuse mean greater efficiency, which helps reduce energy consumption. Reducing water consumption equals less energy, which means less impact on these two critical resources.

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