COMMENTARY: Water management can improve your reputation

Earlier this year, the Carbon Trust launched the world’s first independent international certification to recognise and encourage water use reduction and management – the Carbon Trust Water Standard. Dr Tim Robinson, Commercial and Technical Director and co-owner of water treatment specialist Biochemica UK Ltd, shares his thoughts on what organisations can gain from the award and advises on practical steps they can take to meet its requirements.

The Carbon Trust Water Standard is the latest endorsement to come from the leading international certification body, following the successful roll out of its Carbon Standard in 2008. The award provides independent verification and recognition of an organisation’s water credentials. Effectively, it acts as a powerful symbol for firms to globally communicate that they are measuring, managing and reducing their water footprint.

As water resources continue to come under strain from increased food, energy and industrial demands, firms of all sizes must realise that including water management in their sustainability strategies is crucial.

Water scarcity is hot on the sustainability agenda with predictions from the 2030 Water Resources Group that in less than 20 years global water demand will increase to a level 40% above current supply. By 2050, the world population is estimated to reach 9.1 billion putting greater strain on this precious natural resource.

It is widely viewed that the mismanagement of water is one of the major contributors to water scarcity fears.

Water Management

As water management becomes a critical component to organisations’ sustainability strategies, the Carbon Trust Water Standard has the ability to encourage the adoption of a more thorough assessment of water usage.

By addressing these issues through the award, organisations will demonstrate their commitment to operating responsibly, in turn improving their reputations regarding sustainability. There are also opportunities for short and long term cost reductions.

In order to achieve the Carbon Trust Water Standard, firms’ water measurement and performance is assessed against the Corporate Water Use Assessment (CWUA) Protocol. Consisting of two parts, the CWUA Protocol was developed by the Carbon Trust to support organisations with measuring their water use (Part 1: Requirements) and to establish a benchmark for those seeking to demonstrate and report on water management, and change in use over time (Part 2: Criteria).

Our Total Water Management approach has allowed us to help organisations meet these criteria through the provision of practical solutions and advice, from the moment water enters a process until it is discharged. We offer a wide range of water and wastewater treatment services across multiple industries, with many firms now looking to incorporate new, environmentally-friendly approaches to their water processes.

Reducing Footprint

As a result, many clients have expressed an interest in the Carbon Trust Water Standard – particularly those within the food industry. By nature of the sector’s operations, a huge amount of water usage is required throughout various processes from potato washing to vegetable production.

I would encourage any organisation intent on gaining the award, regardless of their industry, to start by considering their programmes concerning water monitoring, plant design and treatment to identify how their overall water footprint can be reduced.

The main components of the CWUA Protocol (Part 1) take into account water use measurement, water management and stewardship and water reduction performance. Goals in these areas can be tackled with a better management and understanding of water mass balance through systems and more significantly, through water re-use and recycling solutions.  Many of these goals have been realised through new plant design and installation projects and retro-fitting to existing processes by our industrial partner, MSE Systems Ltd.

MSE Systems specialises in the design, construction and installation of wastewater treatment plants. We have worked together to assist firms in taking practical steps to meet the requirements of the Carbon Trust Water Standard.

Robust wastewater treatment and re-use processes should be built to meet a business’ current and future needs. The best starting point is gathering all the information needed to develop a bespoke treatment process which will not only to meet the criteria of the award, but ensure that where necessary it generates a treated water standard, compliant with environmental discharge permitting regulations. Meeting both of these criteria is often essential in producing the savings needed to achieve the return on the investment demanded by the business.

This process of gathering data, detailed flow and load surveys and characterisation studies ahead of a system’s design will highlight opportunities for re-use.

Water Reuse

The benefits of re-use extend further than reducing consumption and costs. For example, a fresh produce food industry customer benefitted from a treatment system that enhances the produce quality. Savings are therefore not limited to the direct savings brought about through the reduction in abstracted volumes and discharge, but widen to indirect cost savings and benefits brought about through longer product shelf life.

These approaches can aid companies in achieving and maintaining the Carbon Trust Water Standard while keeping within their consent to discharge and introducing water re-use and recycling measures to bolster their sustainability credentials and reputations. Significant cost savings often come hand-in-hand with such approaches, therefore by actively thinking about our ecological profile we can also enhance our economical profile, helping businesses on all levels.

For further details on Biochemica’s Carbon Trust Water Standard Support Service, part of our environmentally-friendly division, Ecochemica, click here. To arrange a free, no obligation consultation with our specialist, call 08455045440 or email info@biochemica.co.uk.