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How Ford, PepsiCo Plan to Slash Manufacturing Water Use

PepsiCo water treatmentManufacturing facilities are often water utilities’ largest customers. They require massive amounts of water for multiple uses including cooling, processes, cleaning, employee sanitation, steam generation and, in some cases, to produce their products.

Within the past week, two corporations in two different sectors, Ford and PepsiCo, have committed to drastically reducing their water use in manufacturing.

Ford, which has set a long-term goal to use zero potable water in manufacturing, plans to reduce its water use by nearly three-fourths by 2020. And PepsiCo has pledged to improve the water use efficiency of its direct manufacturing operations by 25 percent by 2025, compared to 2015 levels. Both companies plan to employ several water-saving technologies to achieve these goals.

PepsiCo’s new environmental target comes on the heels of PepsiCo’s recent announcement that it reduced its operational water use last year per unit of production by 26 percent, against a 2006 baseline. This exceeded the company’s previously stated goal to reduce operational water use by 20 percent by the end of 2015.

These water conservation efforts also saved PepsiCo more than $80 million between 2011-2015.

Executives from both companies discussed their new water management goals with Environmental Leader.

Ford’s Shrinking Water Footprint

Last week Ford said that by 2020, it plans to have reduced its water usage per vehicle by 72 percent. This, the automaker says, will have saved more than 10 billion gallons of water since the turn of the millennium. It means that for every 1 gallon of water Ford used in manufacturing in 2000, it aims to use about 1 liter by 2020.

“We recognize water is a critical resource, so we established an aggressive 2020 target, building on our successful reduction efforts to date,” said Andrew Hobbs, director of Ford’s environmental quality office. “We are exploring innovative ways to reduce our footprint, starting with our aspirational goal of zero potable water use in our manufacturing processes. From there, we have a final goal of zero water withdrawal for our manufacturing processes.”

He said Ford has achieved its water reductions to date — the company saved 10 billion gallons of water from 2000 to 2015, a decrease of 61 percent — by implementing new technologies such as its 3-wet paint process and minimum quantity lubrication or “near dry machining,” which save hundreds of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year.

To achieve its new water targets, Ford will expand these technologies across its productions facilities and invest in others such as using recycled water to “aggressively manage water use,” Hobbs said, adding the company also conducts ongoing water assessments to determine where new water-saving processes can be implemented.

He won’t say how much Ford expects to spend on these and other real-time water metering technologies but said “we are selecting our investments to yield the most benefit.”

The automaker is also working with partners to reduce its water use. “The water issue is a challenge too large for one company to tackle on its own,” Hobbs sais. “We are pursuing innovative partnerships with technology suppliers. We are also working with leading NGOs such as CDP, Ceres, Global Water Challenge and the UN CEO Water Mandate to enhance our transparency in reporting. We are also sharing our best practices with our suppliers through the Partnership for a Cleaner Environment (PACE) program. This allows us to multiply the impact of our water saving efforts throughout our supply chain.”

PepsiCo Targets Plants, Suppliers

PepsiCo yesterday announced several new environmental targets including a pledge to improve the water use efficiency of its direct manufacturing operations by 25 percent by 2025, using 2015 as a baseline. This is in addition to the 25 percent improvement in water-use efficiency the company has achieved since 2006.

The company also committed to improve the water-use efficiency of its direct agricultural supply chain by 15 percent compared to 2015 in high-water-risk sourcing areas by 2025.

“Since agriculture represents approximately 70 percent of the world’s freshwater use, we foresee this goal as being very impactful,” said Roberta Barbieri, PepsiCo VP global water and environmental solutions. “In fact, we estimate that the volume of water saved through delivery of this goal would equate approximately to the amount of the entire water use of all PepsiCo direct operations.”

Additionally, the company committed to replenishing 100 percent of the water it consumes in its manufacturing operations within high-water-risk areas.

In late August, Coca-Cola said the company and its bottling partners met their goal to replenish the equivalent amount of water used in their global sales volume back to nature and communities.

Barbieri says Pepsi will achieve its new manufacturing water targets “through a comprehensive approach to water stewardship at the plant level, including reusing treated process water through recovery and reuse systems, monitoring and fixing leaks in our plants, and leveraging technology.”

This technology includes:

  • PepsiCo’s Treated Water Efficiency Tool, which allows beverage plants to optimize their water treatment systems, resulting in cost savings and water consumption reductions.
  • Cost-optimized biological treatments, capacitive deionization and forward osmosis for treating wastewater
  • Water capture and return technologies, including rainwater reharvesting and evaporation technologies.

Barbieri won’t say how much the company plans to invest in this technology or other water conservation efforts. But she says the company does expect to see these efforts translate to cost savings.

“Earlier this year, we announced that our environmental sustainability agenda delivered more than $600 million in cost savings over the past five years (2011-2015) through the continued progress of PepsiCo’s water, energy, packaging and waste-reduction initiatives,” Barbieri said. “Our water conservation efforts alone delivered more than $80 million in cost savings during that time — so as we look to the future, we know that continuing to use water more efficiently in our manufacturing process will translate into real cost savings. Through our Resource Conservation (ReCon) program, best practices, tools and training on efficient water use are leveraged across our global manufacturing network to compound cost savings and efficiencies.”

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