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Guest Blog: Water efficiency in the food & drink sector: a view on future challenges

By Castle Water

Water efficiency is one of the most important challenges that we are facing. Without this simple yet abundantly complex substance we would not exist and neither would our beautiful planet be what it is. 

With more water being used than ever before, the food and drink sector must make a concerted effort to combat wastage and misuse. 

Did you know that only about 1% of the water on earth is fresh drinking water? 

Water Usage In Processing Of Food And Drink 

With rising population numbers comes more mouths to feed. 

The rising population directly correlates to the amount of water used in the production of food and drink.  

Farmers are finding new and innovative ways to use and reuse water, such as hydroponic growing and indoor vertical farms. 

water supplier estimates that 25,000 litres of water are needed to sustain the food production of an estimated family of four. 

Restaurants already know the value of water as it is vital to their functioning. Looking forward more emphasis will need to be placed on greywater systems and having more efficient water conservation systems in place. 

Wastewater Treatment & How It’s Improving 

A major issue that comes with treating water is the harmful chemicals left in the water thanks to many things, such as environmentally harmful chemicals that need to be removed before the water is safe for reuse.  

Many companies have shifted to producing environmentally friendly cleaning detergents. 

Using only environmentally friendly cleaning products would greatly decrease the energy and cost involved in treating water. 

Combined with increased efficiency in water conservation and reuse, this alone can drastically reduce the footprint created by the food and drink sector. 

Using RO Water 

As access to clean water becomes more scarce, processes such as reverse osmosis are becoming more commonplace and essential to a growing number of industries. 

RO is widespread in the food and drink sector. Improvements in the system will only benefit this sector. 

Currently, this process leaves between 25 to 50 per cent as wastewater which is still a high quantity of water lost. In the future, technology will need to improve to bring this number down to 10 per cent or less. 

Recycling And How It Uses Water 

A big driver towards recycling processed waste is saving the environment and its resources. 

Unfortunately, everything comes at a price. We pay the price of recycling through electricity and more importantly water.  

Some types of recycled goods can use up to 45 litres of water to clean which is a problem all on its own. 

The food and drink sector will need to look into developing more closed-loop systems to conserve water through the recycling process. 

Final Thoughts 

With so many complex processes and functions in food and drink production, the problem lies in many areas. 

It will take more than one business or organisation to truly make a difference in how water efficiency will look in the coming years.  

One thing is certain, though: with enough conscious businesses acting together, we can start to make a cleaner and greener tomorrow.