How Can the Beverage Industry Enhance Water Reclaim & Reuse?

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How Can the Beverage Industry Enhance Water Reclaim & Reuse?

How Can the Beverage Industry Enhance Water Reclaim & Reuse?

September 20, 2018

Sustainability Leaders Discuss Barriers Blocking the Way


Dwindling water quality. Increasing water scarcity. Lack of water access. These days, if there’s one thing in full supply in the world, it’s water-related challenges.
But solutions to these challenges do exist—and others are in the making. Solutions, however, often come with their own set of barriers. One such quandary is water reclaim and reuse—particularly in the beverage sector.
For more than a decade, the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER)—a consortium of leading beverage companies from around the globe—has made sustainable water use and protectiona foundational priority. This year, we established a new technical working group centered on technology, and the first focus area is water reclaim and water reuse.
Recently, several of the Technology Working Group members got together for a Q&A session to share their unique perspectives on the water reclaim and reuse challenges inside and outside the beverage sector. Those members include: Julio Torruella of Bacardi Limited, Danielle Kohler of Pernod Ricard, and Michael Wilson of Diageo. Below we share their insights

 Technology Isn’t (Necessarily) the Problem

Q: From your perspective, do you think the right water reclaim and reuse technology exists and is readily available to companies?
Julio Torruella (Bacardi Limited): There are several techniques and technologies available—filtration, reverse osmosis, and evaporation, for example, but many are very energy intensive. In Bacardi’s experience, there is no “silver bullet” technology that serves as the perfect answer for spirits producers. Instead, it’s dependent on effluent characteristics, facility size, processes, energy consumption, scale, and so on. Legacy operations with very old facilities can make it difficult to determine which technology should be implemented—especially if they have limited streams segregation. In addition, differences in processes require varying levels of effluent treatment depending on the type of spirits that are produced.
Danielle Kohler (Pernod Ricard): Yes. From a technical point of view, many reuse technologies exist to enable us to maintain and/or improve water quality. In my opinion, it’s not typically a technology issue. It is more a question of being able to do it in a cost-effective manner and in a way that will not alter internal and consumer perceptions, marketing, and understanding. When using spring water from a given area is part of your story telling, for instance, it can be quite complicated to consider water reuse or reclaim!
Michael Wilson (Diageo): This is all true. An additional consideration, perhaps, is that as water recovery and reuse technologies become more widely used, the extent of the investment should decrease. Costs should lessen, and technologies and solutions will be more competitive. And as interest and application of recovery becomes more widely used this will stimulate more innovation and advances in water recovery technologies. 


At the recent BIER meeting in Copenhagen, two suppliers demonstrated some recent innovations in water recovery technologies. One example from Singapore effectively demonstrated what’s possible with advances in water recovery and reuse facilities operating at a significantly reduced footprint, ~75% less, using these new and emerging technologies. Suppliers are adapting to the needs of society and they’re developing more advanced recovery systems that are becoming more available as their use increases. 

Read the entire BIER BLOG here