The report found between 2007 and 2014 food, drink and dairy companies made reductions of 15% in water use, excluding water in their products.

Companies also made a reduction, excluding water in product, of 22.9% per tonne compared to a 2007 baseline.

Dairy UK firms featured in the ‘Food and Drink Manufacturing Water Use Report’ have made reductions in water intensity by around 13% in the last seven years, according to the industry body.

The dairy firms made a reduction of 0.2m3 per tonne of product by implementing savings at processing sites, such as utilising more efficient cleaning methods, taking action against water use hotspots and using water treatment technologies to recycle wastewater.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which was also represented in the findings, reported reductions in water consumption of 24.2% between 2007 and 2014, with water intensity falling more than a quarter (26%).

2020 targets

The companies in the report had formerly signed up to the Federation House Commitment, which set an industry target of reducing water use 20% by 2020.

Commenting on the dairy industry’s 13% water intensity reduction, Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans said: “This is a significant achievement for dairy companies given that production for these sites increased by 15% over the same reporting period.

“This progress demonstrates the dairy industry’s continuing commitment to reducing its water consumption and builds upon and complements the water reduction targets already set by the industry’s own Dairy Roadmap.”

Ian Wright, director general of FDF, said: “Water use reduction is at the heart of our environmental ambition. This encouraging result is a testament to the commitment and action of our members. They have been implementing industry-leading water saving initiatives across their sites.”

Joining forces

Secretary of State for environment, food and rural affairs Elizabeth Truss added her support to the findings: “Today’s announcement is a tribute to the continued commitment and achievements of the food industry in promoting and delivering water efficiency.”

She added the recently established UK Water Partnership would help generate further progress towards ensuring water security: “Together with government, industry has joined forces to develop new technologies, boost knowledge and build skills in making us better placed than ever to respond to this important issue.”

Matt Field

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