Sainsburys cuts water consumption by 50%

Sainsbury's has reduced its water consumption across its estate by 50% since 2005, largely due to recycling and utilising rainwater throughout its operations.

As part of its water stewardship strategy, the investment in car wash water reclaim units at 66 of its stores saves nine Olympic sized swimming pools worth of water each year, amounting to 22,674 cubic metres (m3).

In addition to recycling, rainwater harvesting is now being installed in all new stores as standard and the retailer is currently looking at retrofitting rainwater harvesting units in existing stores.

A recent retrofit unit at the Sainsbury’s store in Swansea now supplies water for toilet flushing and has achieved an annual mains water consumption saving of 1,300m3.

Since March 2012, Sainsbury’s has focused on strategic investments to deliver its reduction target and to ensure it is maintained. It is also using, where possible, non-potable water, whether through recycling in the car washes or through utilising rainwater for toilet flushing, car washing and irrigation.

Speaking to edie, head of sustainability, engineering, energy and environment at Sainsbury’s, Paul Crewe, said: “We have achieved our target of a 50% relative reduction in water use which is a saving equivalent to 393 Olympic sized swimming pools each year. 

“We have achieved this through a number of water saving measures that form part of our 20×20 Sustainability Plan. This includes eradicating underground leaks, saving individual stores hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.  We have also fitted things like pre-rinse spray taps and low-flush toilets in all our stores and invested in rainwater harvesting for all new stores as standard as well as retrofitting these units in existing stores,” he added.

According to water management firm, Waterscan, who worked with Sainsbury’s on the project, extensive works have also been undertaken to identify and eradicate underground leaks having a significant impact against its target.

Sainsbury’s repaired a leak at a store in Wigan which saved 21 Olympic sized swimming pools worth of water each year, amounting to 53,710m3 per annum.

Sainsbury’s has also invested in automatic meter reading (AMR) to enable swifter identification of leaks and reduce the liabilities encountered through Water Company estimated billing.

In February, Sainsburys was one of the first four organisations to achieve the world’s first international award for water reduction, aimed at galvanising business action on measuring, managing and reducing water use.

Sainsbury’s, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Sunlight and Branston, worked in tandem with the Carbon Trust to develop the methodology.

Leigh Stringer

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