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UK Food and Drink Industry Cuts Water Use 16%

FHCUK arms of food and drink manufacturers including Coca-Cola Enterprises, Heinz and Nestlé have collectively reduced their water use — excluding that in product — by 16.1 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the Federation House Commitment’s 2013 progress report.

The FHC, which launched in 2008, is a voluntary agreement that aims to help reduce overall water usage across the UK food and drink industry by 20 percent by 2020. The 16.1 percent reduction in companies’ absolute water use is equivalent to 7.4 million cubic meters (m3), FHC says.

On top of the absolute reduction, signatories have also reduced their water use (excluding that in product) per metric ton of product by 20.9 percent compared to the 2007 baseline, a reduction of 0.52 m3 per metric ton product. Production for these sites increased by 6.1 percent over the same reporting period, FHC says.

For example, poultry producer Moy Park’s FHC sites realized a 17 percent reduction in absolute water use while recording a 19 percent increase in total production since 2007.

A variety of what FHC describes as “quick wins and innovative solutions” were identified during visits to Moy Park’s sites including the recovery of reverse osmosis concentrate to the hot water tanks for reuse; the recovery of softener regeneration liquors for low grade washing; and the installation of foam and clean machines, optimizing the sites cleaning processes.

Between January 2012 and June 2013, nine new companies signed up to the FHC, bringing the total number of signatories to 71 across 294 active sites, the report says.

The FHC voluntary agreement is managed by the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP), the UK Food and Drink Federation, Dairy UK and the UK Environment Agency, and administered by Hyder Consulting. All companies that sign the FHC agree to make a contribution to the food and drink industry water reduction target.

Between 2010 and 2007 FHC members fell by by around 607 million gallons, or 12 percent, according to the 2011 progress report.

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