Operational improvements that benefit the environment sometimes emerge from new technologies—and perhaps just as often they emerge from new thinking about old processes. That was the case with changing an existing practice at one of our manufacturing facilities that will save millions of gallons of water.
Many of Diversey’s cleaning and hygiene solutions call for reverse osmosis water—standard municipal water put through a special filtration system to remove certain minerals and heavy metals that are safe for human consumption but could alter the composition of our products when mixed with other raw materials. During the reverse osmosis process, about one-third of the water required by the reverse osmosis process is used to flush the collected minerals and metals from the membrane filters. As we looked for opportunities to reduce our manufacturing water consumption, our Sturtevant, Wisconsin manufacturing plant identified that a large portion of the site’s net water use was associated with the reverse osmosis flush water. The opportunity to reduce the site’s water consumption by reducing or reusing the reverse osmosis flush process was then validated through an AquaCheckSM audit, and the site started evaluating and testing options to reuse the reverse osmosis flush water in place of fresh municipal water.
The new solution is a simple system to capture and store the flush water until it can be used for cleaning or maintenance activities, such as rinsing tanks, cleaning plant machinery and lubricating packaging conveyors. Additional municipal water is available for cleaning operations, but the stored water is used first.
The newly implemented operation has helped the plant reduce its overall water consumption, and is on track to save more than 2 million gallons of water annually. It also was the basis for a global project to evaluate where reverse osmosis processes are used in the company, minimize our requirements for pre-treated water, and optimize reverse osmosis flush water reuse to the extent feasible.