5 reasons to help the F&B industry recycle more water

The F&B industry uses a significant amount of water. However, there’s little support and few incentives available to help businesses in this sector upgrade their wastewater treatment plants and recycle more water. Here’s why it’s important to provide more support to this burgeoning sector.

In recent years the discourse around climate change and the future of our planet has become increasingly urgent. As the future becomes more uncertain, it is becoming impossible to ignore the challenge that we collectively face. Water shortages are inextricably linked to climate change, and the F&B industry – a sector that uses a huge amount of water – has a really important role to play in addressing water use. Indeed, with fresh water a limited resource that is increasingly sought after, UNESCO has called it the new “blue gold”.

In food and drink manufacturing, water is used in multiple ways – as an ingredient, a cleaning agent, a cooking aid, for transportation and the conditioning of raw materials. However, with water scarcity an increasing problem, we all have to start doing things differently. Manufacturers must become more sustainable, but they also need to be provided with the support necessary to make this happen.

The good news is that sustainable water use is possible and could even be profitable. Water recycling could allow businesses to reduce their environmental impact, without negatively affecting their bottom line.

Here’s five benefits of water recycling.

1. Reducing water helps the environment

Water use has a big impact on the environment. One-third of the global population already lives under conditions of severe water scarcity. By 2050 it’s estimated that 5bn people could suffer from climate-related water shortage, The problem is urgent, and manufacturers – like all other businesses – have an important role to play in helping to address this problem. If we’re serious about wanting to help the environment, reducing water use is imperative.

2. Complying with current and future regulations

Regulations at national and international level are likely to become stricter and more numerous as time goes on in order to make provisions for climate change and water scarcity.

The F&B industry would benefit from being able to take a more proactive approach and pre-empt future regulations – lack of incentives and support can mean they are only able to react to them. The incentives need to be there to support businesses in making changes – sometimes seismic – to how they operate. While some funding options are available to businesses looking to make a positive sustainability shift, there’s still a lot more that could be done to specifically help the F&B industry.

3. Sustainability is desirable

Approximately 83% of consumers surveyed by Accenture across 11 countries, including in Europe, statedthat it’s “important or extremely important” that companies design their products and services to be more environmentally friendly. This sentiment is likely to grow stronger as time goes on.

Businesses can turn water recycling into an opportunity to nurture a positive image of their company. Those who are able to adopt more water recycling can become leaders in the field and help guide others.

4. Water recycling can be cost effective

It’s true. Water recycling can save businesses money! By reducing the need to purchase fresh water, reducing disposal costs, and reinvesting water back into a business, water recycling can be a financially smart move.

For businesses that discharge into the sewer, there are potential savings on Mogden costs to be made, while those that discharge into the environment can save on treatment costs. Any business that uses water will therefore stand to benefit from increasing its water recycling capacity.

5. Water is set to become even more scarce

It’s becoming clear that our planets’ supply of water will struggle to keep up with the demands of a growing population. Even in the UK, a country you wouldn’t normally associate with water scarcity, the outlook looks bleak. In March last year, the Environment Agency Chief Executive warned that the UK may face severe water shortages in the next 25 years. And more recently the CEO of Anglian Water, Peter Simpson, warned that we could run out of water in the next 10 years.

The World Economic Forum has identified water supply crises as among the greatest threats facing the planet. We need industry to become part of the solution, and we’d like to see the industry supported more, to work collectively with others to find ways to improve water recycling.

Opportunities for the future

At Alpheus we see incredible opportunities in water recycling. We put sustainability at the core of what we do, and support clients to meet their own environmental targets. Water recycling is a fantastic opportunity for businesses and decision-makers alike to reduce the water footprint of the F&B industry while at the same time increasing cost-efficiency and public perceptions.

Be sure to catch our upcoming webinar Sustainability in the Irish F&B Industry on 27th August, where we’ll be exploring the key sustainability challenges and the big opportunities available to businesses. Keep an eye on our website and LinkedIn page for more details on the event and how to register