Could your business be sitting on untapped cost savings?

07/07/2009 - 00:00
Growing concern over environmental issues is having a significant effect on the way businesses are prioritising resource efficiency, says Claire Sweeney, Envirowise Water Specialist.

However, in a recent survey of UK businesses across a range of industry sectors, almost two thirds of respondents said they did not currently measure or monitor their water use at all, and a huge 85% did not have any water reduction targets in place. Yet at Envirowise our experience has shown that companies could reduce their water bills by as much as a third by taking action, meaning there could be vast untapped cost savings within UK industry. Catering is one sector where there is huge potential for saving. In response, we have launched the Rippleffect initiative which provides free, online support to help businesses across a range of industry sectors get to grips with water efficiency and maximise the cost saving potential. The Rippleffect programme is delivered in three online modules over a six-month period, helping businesses to monitor their water use and set targets for improvement – and this year we are offering new information designed specifically for the hotel and catering sector. The closing date for registrations for the Rippleffect is September 14 2009. One of the key areas covered by Rippleffect is how to carry out an audit, which allows a business to understand current water use in each part of the site and identify areas with the greatest potential to make savings. Keeping records of water usage also allows the company to review the success of any water minimisation practice and helps to prevent irregular consumption. In restaurants, any area where food is washed, prepared and cooked is vulnerable to water wastage and this includes waste disposal channels and dishwashers. For example, if a tap is left to run fully open while rinsing fruit and vegetables as much as 40 litres could be lost each minute. In many cases water reduction can be achieved by installing simple retrofit devices such as flow restrictors or trigger-operated spray guns to existing fittings. When replacing devices, it is also important to bare in mind that many water efficient technologies cost no more than less efficient models. Similarly, many restaurant kitchens operate automatic food disposal channels which use water to flush food into a collection area. These can be modified to provide water 'on demand' instead of supplying a constant water stream. Better still, businesses could consider water-less alternatives for collecting food waste such as mesh baskets positioned over the sinks. Many businesses also find there are opportunities to re-use 'grey' or previously-used water in other ways, such as collecting water which has been used to rinse vegetables for external cleaning or garden irrigation. There is a wide range of water efficient technology available to help the catering industry. The Water Technology List (WTL) – managed by Defra and HM Revenue & Customs in partnership with Envirowise and available at www.envirowise.gov.uk/wtl – provides a selection of water efficient products that meet published eligibility criteria. It is important to stress that many of these changes will require the input and support of staff in order to be effective. Envirowise would suggest nominating one employee to act as an internal 'resource efficiency champion' who can help implement activity and provide feedback about positive results to employees. To register for Rippleffect or find out more about water efficiency visit www.envirowise.gov.uk/rippleffect or call the Envirowise Advice Line on 0800 585 794.

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