We all take water for granted: from our morning shower to the refreshing litres we drink every day. Water goes well beyond meeting our personal needs though: it is essential to the smooth running of cities, towns and businesses. Givaudan relies on water, which is a critical ingredient in the manufacturing of our products. Consequently, our sites are taking a closer look at ways to cut day-to-day water needs: from ingenious solutions created by our Green Teams in the Netherlands, to strategic responses to water shortages in Brazil.
Innovation in Naarden
In the Netherlands, water scarcity itself is not an issue, but at our Dutch production site in Naarden, water is very much on the agenda. Here the local Green Team has created a solution to reduce water usage that incorporates old technology and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
Hans, Asset & Outsourcing Manager for the site, explains the initiative: “We have a cross-functional Green Team made up of people from Naarden and Barneveld, our other site in the Netherlands. Operations has a global directive in place to look at opportunities for reducing water consumption, and so we decided to audit the entire water consumption of the Naarden site.”
As a result, the Green Team discovered that 60% of all water at Naarden was being used in the powder manufacturing process, or more precisely, during the cleaning phase. Following each process batch, the equipment needs to be thoroughly cleaned with water so that it is uncontaminated for the next new batch – an essential quality step.
A significant amount of water is also used in the powder manufacturing plant, to remove dust and associated odours from the exhaust gases. Naarden wanted to further reduce odours emitted, which meant the site actually needed to increase the amount of water used – a challenge, given the Green Team’s wish to reduce the overall water usage.
Success in the pipeline
The solution was found in a most unexpected quarter, thanks to the discovery and renewed application of a decommissioned old underground pipeline. Hans explains: “Waste water from our on-site effluent treatment plant is up to 95% clean and we realised that we could reuse this treated effluent to meet our cleaning needs by directing it via the old pipeline to the exhaust gas scrubber. We had to test the pipeline, and clean it of course, as well as invest in some new piping, but it stood up to pressures very well. The old piping actually accounts for 70% of the infrastructure – reuse at its very best!”
It took just over a month for engineering to put the system in place and get it operational. As well as the old piping, water meters, additional filters and some new piping had to be added. “Once approval was given, we were able to create the solution very quickly,” says Hans.
A great, all round, sustainability improvement was achieved. The amount of clean municipal water used on-site was reduced by 12,000m3 per year, which is the equivalent volume of water in six Olympic-sized swimming pools. At the same time, we were also able to improve the treatment of exhaust air to reduce odour emissions by reusing the cleaned effluent.
Amazing what you can achieve with a bit of old piping, and the ability to think out of the box!
Water shortages in Brazil
Water in Brazil is a critical issue, and has been for some years. Low rainfall means that the southeast region of the country, which includes the state of São Paulo, has to think about water usage, and the state government and local authorities have been forced to take drastic measures to ensure the best use of every drop of water.
At Givaudan’s Jaguaré production site in São Paulo, the Company is faced with having to adapt operations to the consequences of the lowest rain levels for 90 years.
Charles, Latam EHS Director, and Claudio, Brazil Jaguaré Site Director, explain the scenario. Charles says: “Due to the low level of water reserves feeding the city and our site, the authorities reduce water pressure for up to four hours every day. In simple terms, this means less water coming into Jaguaré. We are not given advance notice of the timing, so readiness from the tactical team to put in place our mitigation actions means the rate and quality of production is not affected.” Claudio adds: “As well as taking technical steps to ensure the smooth continuation of production, we are communicating at every level to our employees.”
Communications and action plans
The Company has taken many steps regarding internal communications, producing campaigns around water and energy shortages that ask for everybody to contribute to alleviating the plant’s water issues. Efforts include internal communication campaigns around ‘water consumption consciousness’, including an internal quarterly newsletter that updates employees on the latest water-saving initiatives and achievements.
Achieving big reductions
The results of all this activity have been impressive. Charles again: “Over the past five years and until now, we have reduced the site’s water usage by 55%, measured in terms of the water required to produce one tonne of product.”
“One of the key enablers to this significant result was the project to optimise our Clean-In-Place (CIP) process for the spray driers. Another critical action was in reassessing the water feed system to the steam boilers to reduce waste. We continue to take new steps on all fronts, monitoring the situation, investing in technology, and communicating with employees to ensure we remain productive, regardless of the low rainfall.”
Naarden and Jaguaré face radically different situations, but our actions on two continents show that Givaudan takes the global issue of water scarcity very seriously.