Food and beverage manufacturing facilities are
notorious for how much
water they consume.
While water is central
to a plant’s operations,
there may be ways
you can operate more
efficiently and be
smarter about how your
plant uses water.
water consumption is
not only better for the
planet, but it may save
you in utility costs, as
well. Let’s look at five basic ways to reduce water consumption in
1. Low-Flow Fixtures In Employee Welfare Spaces
The easiest way to reduce water consumption in your facility
is to use low-flow fixtures in employee welfare spaces. Reducing
water usage in processing and cleaning areas can be more
challenging, so the low-hanging fruit is really found in areas of the
plant such as restrooms, kitchens and break rooms. By switching
to low-flow sinks, toilets and dishwashers in these employee
welfare areas, you can reduce your plant’s overall water usage by
upwards of 30 percent.
2. Drought-Tolerant Landscaping
Another big opportunity for water savings is located outside
your facility. Select drought-tolerant landscaping and opt out of
an irrigation system to reduce your overall water usage. Plus, you
don’t want too many plants around a food manufacturing facility
anyway, especially fruit-bearing species that can attract rodents.
We advise most of our clients to stick to minimal, drought-tolerant
landscaping to spruce up the entryway and the parking lot — and
to leave it at that.
3. Create Less Mess In Your Processing
When it comes to process areas, water is mostly used for
sanitation and cleanup. While there isn’t a magic formula or
technology to automatically reduce water consumption, there are
ways you can ensure you’re using water efficiently.
First, train your staff to reduce the “mess” created in
processing as much as possible. This is an operational thing and
perhaps “out-of-the-box” thinking, but it makes sense. If you
reduce the amount of mess you make, you reduce the amount
of water needed to clean it up. While it may sound obvious, you
may be surprised at how many plants can do more to make their
4. Use An Efficient Balance Of Cleaning Solution,
Water Pressure And Temperature
The second factor when it comes to reducing water in your
processing is the ratio of chemical solution, water temperature
and water pressure used in cleaning. By determining the most
efficient amount of chemicals and/or the right type of chemicals,
you can reduce the amount of water needed in cleaning.
(Generally speaking, the greater the chemical concentration and
temperature, the less pressure is required, which means less
water used.) Of course, this ratio is influenced by a number of
variables and will vary depending on a particular plant’s products
Also, be careful what kind of cleaning solution you use.
Chlorinated cleaners are very common for cleanup, but they can
spell headaches in facilities that use a lot of stainless steel. When
you apply a heated chlorinated solution (above 140°F) to stainless
steel, it will corrode the material over time.
5. Nozzle Restrictors
Something else to consider is the use of nozzle restrictors.
We sometimes specify these components be added to hoses in a
facility to reduce water pressure — and thus reduce water usage.
However, employees may sometimes remove these restrictors to
increase pressure in an effort to accelerate cleanup. The trade-off,
of course, is that they use more water in exchange for speeding
Greywater: Not The Best Option For
While the above suggestions are all good options for a food
and beverage facility, there is a question plant owners often ask:
Should we use a greywater system to help conserve water?
These systems recycle gently used water from sinks and cleaning
processes, and often use that water for irrigation.
While greywater reuse can be a viable option to conserve
water in commercial buildings, we typically advise against these
systems in food and beverage plants. The payoff in water savings
is simply not worth the potential food safety risk. All it takes is for
one person to accidentally tap into the system without realizing
it is greywater. and suddenly you could have a major food safety
problem on your hands.
Kurt Warzynski is VP, Process Engineering at Stellar.
By Kurt Warzynski
IndustryINSIDER This month's
OPERATIONS 5 Ways To Reduce Water Use
In Your Food Processing Plant