New water targets for UK dairy industry

Sensemaking / New water targets for UK dairy industry

Industry federation Dairy UK joins WRAP and FDF in plans to cut water use by 20% by 2020.

25 Apr 2013

As water becomes an increasingly scarce commodity [see GF Special Edition ‘Water Works’], savvy companies are working out new ways to use less. With expertise on the issue at a premium, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which represents the interests of the UK’s manufacturers in food and non-alcoholic drinks, teamed up with WRAP to set up something called the Federation House Commitment (FHC). Its aim: to help the industry cut water use overall by 20% by 2020.

In return for signing up, FDF members can get access to the latest specialist knowledge, best practice guidelines and online tools. Importantly, they also get to learn from the experiences of companies throughout the food and drink industry (such as Coca-Cola, Heinz and Kraft) by participating in peer working groups.

Now, industry federation Dairy UK has come on board. And not before time. The sector consumed 11.2 billion litres of water in 2010 – an increase of nearly a billion since 2008. Companies already committed to taking action are Dairy Crest, Müller Dairy and First Milk. Others benefiting include chocolate-maker Thornton’s, which has reduced its water footprint by 20,000m3 per year by analysing flows in and out of its sites, and quickly identifying underground leaks. The company expects to save £60,000 per year as a result.

Bread-maker Warburton’s has identified 39,000m3 of water savings per year with the technical support of FHC experts. It also reduced its reliance on mains water by 10% in 2012 by using water more efficiently on site. Overall, FHC signatories made a collective 14.4% reduction in water use between 2007 and 2011, according to the FHC’s 2012 ‘Progress Report’.

The FDF is encouraged at the rate of progress. “We’re seeing a growing commitment from all corners of the food and drink industry to reducing water use”, says its Head of Climate Change and Energy Policy, Stephen Reeson. “This kind of voluntary commitment really promotes the value of collaboration and knowledge-sharing.” – Katharine Earley

Photo credit: Flickr darkday

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