Greywater recycling benefits must be better communicated

Greywater recycling systems could make a significant contribution towards cutting water consumption, but are unlikely to catch on in the UK without financial incentives according to new research.

The systems are currently expensive and are not widely used in Britain, a report from the College of Estate Management has said.

The study calls on the Government and water companies to do more to explain the importance and benefits of greywater recycling to the public.

The greywater supply industry could also consider an alternative business model, whereby installation costs are met by system suppliers and customers pay from resulting savings in their water bills.

The report says that people could be encouraged to recycle greywater by introducing water meters for all supplies, encouraging awareness and cost of water use, and by bringing in a tariff system to discourage excessive use of potable water.

A well-sized greywater recycling unit should save around a third of a household’s potable water. Houses should also be designed to accommodate the future installation of greywater systems, through tighter design standards implemented by building regulations.

According to the Environment Agency, the average person in England and Wales uses 150 litres of water a day. By 2020 demand for water could increase by 800 million extra litres of water a day.

The report estimates that if just one-in-ten of the UK population installed a greywater recycling system, it would cut the current average water consumption of 150 litres per day to 145 litres per day.

If an additional 1% of the population installed a system every year, by 2042 the average consumption could drop to 125 litres a day, meeting current Building Regulations targets for new homes.

“There is no easy answer to how to encourage people to recycle water,” says the report. “Water is required to sustain life and it is in the public interest that water continues to be an affordable commodity. Education and various initiatives could be introduced to encourage more people to ‘go grey’.”

Maxine Perella

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