Manufacturing facilities in the U.S. consume high volumes of water in order to manufacture goods for the public. That water is regulated by federal and local government when it is fed into the facility and when it is discharged from the facility (as wastewater). Recycling this wastewater can eliminate the need to discharge water altogether, reducing the amount of water a facility consumes significantly. Reducing water consumption saves the manufacturer money and reduces their impact on the environment. Here are the top 3 reasons why manufacturers recycle and reuse their process water.
1. Social Responsibility / Environmental Stewardship
Manufacturers are using their existing brand power to lead by example and support water conservation efforts. Mandates from corporate headquarters are passed to their U.S. manufacturing facilities to recycle water, reduce water consumption, and demonstrate environmental stewardship overall. These companies recognize those efforts as a social responsibility, understanding also that consumers favor companies who are taking action to improve the impact they have on their community and the environment.
2. Drought Response
Manufacturers within states that experience drought (short term or long term) are impacted by water price increases and state-wide conservation mandates. These impacts can turn into production losses and even downtime, if the facility does not have access to the water volume they need to keep up with regular production. An industrial wastewater recycling system (a closed loop process) ensures that the facility has the volume of water they need for production, even during a drought. Manufacturers who use water recycling systems report reuse rates varying between 80% and 95%. The reuse rate is dependent upon the facilities wastewater quality and the technology used in the recycling system. At any rate, this is a viable long-term solution for facilities in drought-prone regions.
3. Cost Savings
Manufacturers are routinely trying to cut back expenses. Often they look to cut operation costs, which include expenses associated with water. Facilities incur several ongoing water-related costs. They purchase water form the city, purchase and maintain wastewater treatment equipment, employ personnel to operate the treatment equipment, and pay fees associated with discharge permits. Additionally, if a manufacturer is out of compliance with their discharge permit, they can also incur penalty fees and even face legal action. While the cost per gallon of water varies, more manufacturers are finding they can save money by recycling what they already use. Water recycling practices can also provide added benefits such as extending the life of process and treatment equipment (due to the high quality of the recycled water).
Recycling industrial wastewater allows manufacturers to reuse the water they have already purchased, which saves the money, mitigates impacts from drought conditions, and promotes the company as environmental stewards. There are many big name companies who recycle their wastewater, and they usually promote these activities online and in annual reports that are also available to the public. With just a little research, you can learn about the environmental initiatives of your favorite brands.