Making every drop count
We drink it, bathe in it, grow our food and generate electricity with it. Water is a natural resource that is vital to all forms of life, yet its supply is increasingly under threat.
Water is a renewable yet finite resource according to the international not-for-profit organisation CDP, dedicated to driving sustainable economies. The World Economic Forum’s 2015 risk report lists water security as one of the most tangible and fastest-growing social, political and economic challenges today. With demand increasing, we could see a 40% global shortfall between forecast demand and available supply by 2030.
> World Economic Forum’s 2015 risk report
Givaudan began looking at ways to save water back in 2009 when the Company set the benchmark for measuring its environmental performance. Each location has its own Site Eco-Efficiency Plan – SEEP – for reducing energy, CO2 emissions, waste and water. Carthage, Givaudan’s flavour ingredients site in the Mill Creek Valley region of Cincinnati, began its journey by changing the way people think about water.
“Working in Ohio where we have a plentiful supply of fresh water, there was not a great deal of awareness in the past of water scarcity,” says Joel, Senior Site Project Engineer. “The change in mindset at every level of the organisation – from technicians to engineers – is key: realising that water is not free, that it has both a cost and a huge impact on our environmental performance.”
A series of resource-saving workshops conducted in 2014 served to increase awareness of water as a vital resource, a message that was further reinforced with the Company’s renewed commitment to achieve strengthened eco-efficiency targets for 2020.
> Workshopping a new mindset
“With our eco-efficiency priorities top of mind, we have begun to think about water consumption upfront and factor it into our project plans from the outset,” Joel explains.
“We have several projects currently ongoing to reduce water in our operations. One way we achieve this is by switching processes that currently use municipal water to our existing cooling tower loop, which means we no longer use excessive amounts of municipal water for cooling. Another is the installation of automatic valves to manage water needed for purging product dust from the recirculating scrubber water. This allows the unit to stop adding water when product is not being dried.”
It’s not just about using less water but also working smarter. A new project slated for this year will measure actual water quality and enable further reductions in the makeup water needed to purge exhaust gases.
Saving over 56,000 cubic metres of water per year
These two initiatives alone have been responsible for saving the site over 56,000 cubic metres of water per year – the equivalent of around 22 Olympic-sized swimming pools. These are just a few of the many water-saving initiatives ongoing at Givaudan sites worldwide, from on-site biological treatment of waste water and subsequent re-use in the Netherlands to rain water harvesting in India. Since 2010, Givaudan has reduced total water usage per tonne of product by 10.4% against the 2009 baseline. That’s good progress, but there is still work to be done to achieve the target of 15% less water by 2020.
Koos, Head Sustainability, Flavour & Fragrance Operations, explains the importance not just of short-term actions but of demonstrating excellence in water stewardship over the long term.
“Water is our most basic resource and it is increasingly threatened by global scarcity. At Givaudan, we strive to be effective stewards of water and excel in its management in all our operations. We use closed-loop water processes for cooling waters and have progressively reduced our total water use through efficiency measures. The water we discharge into open watercourses is at least the same quality as the water entering our facilities.”
Developing a global water strategy
According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), both development and climate change are key factors in evolving water stress levels. Overall water risk varies by region depending on exposure to water-related risk. Following a detailed analysis of water performance and risk indicators in 2015, the next step for Givaudan is to develop a global water strategy that includes local action plans, with prioritised actions for high-risk sites. A new standard on Water Management is being developed and will be part of the Company’s Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) directives and standards.