I have to admit it’s not often that i’m pleased when the water bill drops through the door. However today was an exception, for with a few not overly complicated changes to our workplace we managed to reduce our water consumption to just 37% compared with the same period a year ago (despite slightly increased production). Even better as we’re metered this halved our water bill!
Our water consumption is just 37% of that a year ago despite slightly increased production!
So why is this important?
Well we refer to our old friends the Sustainable Development Goals (1)…
-Less than 3 per cent of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5 per cent is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5 per cent for all of man’s ecosystem’s and fresh water needs.
-Humankind is polluting water in rivers and lakes faster than nature can recycle and purify
-More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water.
-Excessive use of water contributes to the global water stress.
-Water is free from nature but the infrastructure needed to deliver it is expensive.
Should the global population reach 9.6 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.
So how did we do it?
Well, firstly our water has always been metered. So whilst our usage wasn’t huge, savings in water usage do lead to reduced costs, so we had an incentive.
We were also working towards the SALSA quality control standard and as such were looking closely in terms of allergens, vegan recipe segregation, and food hygiene, as to how we worked in the chocolate kitchen, our work flow, and how we could improve this. Perhaps intuitively you might think that improving hygiene might require more water usage.
Looking at our work flow we segregated our production into slots such that particular production types might be grouped. A side of effect of this was that dish washing tended to occur in batches, so more efficient use of hot water.
We looked critically at our washing up setup and changed the flow, created more space so we could wash bigger batches in one go, and added a second sink for use as a sanitising rinse. Despite adding a second sink the two stage batch process was much more efficient.
Those from a catering background might think – why didn’t you install an industrial dishwasher? Well we have used one in the past, but as anybody working in chocolate knows, the fat content is high and they are not very good at cleaning chocolate. So our previous industrial dish washer was sold to a caterer to make room for the second sink.
Finally we went through our water heating system and replaced items we thought might cause sporadic leaks – in particular we had suspected that a hot water expansion chamber might lead to intermittent discharge valve leaks that we weren’t aware of.
Despite all of this good work we were very surprised at just how much water we have managed to save. The first six monthly bill has paid for the sink and repairs!
Not only that but we passed our SALSA audit.