- The need for water reduction
- Targets proposed by the FISS Champions' Group
- Industry takes the initiative to reduce consumption
- Why join the Federation House Commitment?
- Savings to be made
The need for water reduction
The food and beverage sector is a major user of water. According to the Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS) Champions’ Group on Water, the industry uses an estimated 430 million litres of water per day from the public water supply. It also directly abstracts 260 million litres of water a day, which equates to 10% of the water abstracted by businesses in the UK.
With the nation’s water resources under ever increasing pressure from growing public and industrial demand, there is a need for food and beverage companies to address the effects of their water consumption on national water security and scarcity, as well as on water quality and local wildlife habitats.
Water scarcity is already an issue in the UK. Per person, the UK has less water available than most other EU countries. The majority of the south and east of England is already severely water stressed. Waterwise states that: "The south east of England has less water available per person than the Sudan and Syria." The lack of water within the south of England has already led to a reduction in the number of water abstraction licences issued during summer months.
Targets proposed by the FISS Champions' Group
In May 2007, the FISS Champions’ Group on Water recommended that: "The food industry should adopt an overall water reduction target of 20% by 2020 against a 2007 baseline, excluding water that forms part or all of the product."
Industry takes the initiative to reduce consumption
The FISS Champions' Group recognised that there were many barriers standing between the food and beverage industry and the achievement of this target, primarily in relation to the collection of accurate data. However, the group did also offer 10 action plans for the industry to implement, with the help of government, to achieve this target. These can been seen in Annex 6 of the report issued by the FISS Champions’ Group on Water.
Even with these barriers standing in the way of the industry achieving the 20% reduction target, food and beverage companies have risen to the challenge.
In October 2007, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) announced, as part of its 'Five-fold Environmental Ambition', that it would help its members make a significant reduction in water use by 2020.
In addition, the FDF and waste reduction body WRAP have collaborated to increase water efficiency across the whole food and beverage sector. This partnership has led to the creation of the Federation House Commitment (FHC), which is free for all companies in the food and drink manufacturing sector to sign up to.
In light of the recommendations proposed by the FISS Champions’ Group on Water, the FHC has set a target of a 20% reduction in water use by 2020 compared with 2007, not including water that forms all or part of the product, which is known as 'embedded water' **link to embedded water factsheet**.
Why join the Federation House Commitment?
By becoming a member of the FHC, an organisation gains access to the following tools and services:
- Up to three days free on-site technical implementation support
- Access to on-line water management tools
- Access to benchmarking information and good practice guidance
- An opportunity to participate in a peer working group
- An opportunity to promote success to the rest of the industry
- Direct access to the FHC Hyder team
- Access to a dedicated members' area on the FHC website
According to the FHC the commercial benefits of joining include:
- Improving the bottom line. By taking action, food and beverage manufacturers that have not previously examined their water consumption can expect to make savings on bills of up to 30%, often with little initial financial investment.
- Gaining a competitive edge. Environmental sustainability is an important area to address. Today’s consumers are increasingly savvy shoppers who care about the impact they have on the environment, and are subsequently attracted to companies that feel the same way. Members of the FHC are making a public declaration of their commitment to environmental sustainability. As the focus of consumers and stakeholders alike extends more and more throughout the supply chain, this is important whether you are a business-to-business or consumer-focused company.
- Anticipating the future. Making an investment today with priority access to WRAP and Hyder consulting is smart preparation for potential sustainability legislation in the future.
- Doing your bit. It’s good corporate social responsibility.
Savings to be made
According to the FISS Champions’ Group on Water, the food and beverage manufacturing sector spends £300 million a year on water. With water such an essential part of the manufacturing process, there is a danger that in times of limited supply its cost could increase considerably. But if the sector was to meet the FHC's 20% reduction target, the FISS Champions' Group has estimated that the industry would save about £60 million every year.
Envirowise has found that sites that have not previously checked their water consumption can usually achieve savings of about 30% on water and effluent bills immediately, by implementing simple water management measures. For example, just by using water saving nozzles on its container cleaning equipment, one drinks manufacturer now saves an estimated £6,000 each year. The water saving nozzles paid for themselves in less than 10 weeks.
Related internet links:
- FHC 2020: Federation House Commitment 2020
- WRAP's Rippleffect programme
- Food and Drink Federation: Federation House Commitment to Water Efficiency
(IGD is not responsible for the content of external sites)