As a result of the plant in Ilminster, Somerset, Branston is saving 41 cubic metres of mains water a day, as waste water from washing potatoes is filtrated, stored and reused on site.

Branston’s general manager, Ian Wait, said the company looked at how water was used on site and worked with local agencies to find methods of reducing its mains water usage.

He said: “We reached our target of 85% reduction in mains water usage around four weeks ago and are now working at our full potential.

“This has significantly helped reduce our reliance on the town’s main supply.”

The recycling system treats the waste water from washing potatoes by removing the soil. The water is then passed through a membrane bioreactor for further filtration, which can then be safely reused.

In addition, the recycling unit also allows cleaner water to be drained into the sewerage system.

To fund the project, Branston received £55,000 investment from the European Regional Development Fund via the Interreg project Water Adaptation is Valuable for Everybody (WAVE), a partnership project supported by Somerset County Council.

Somerset County Council councillor, David Hall, said: “Through the WAVE project we are able to claim up to 50% of the costs back from Europe and Branston is one of five demonstration projects locally being funded through this particular project.”

The UK Farming and Advisory Group (FWAG) is also helping Branston to reduce its effluent discharge by at least 80%.

The water plant is part of a larger initiative by Branston to make its works more sustainable and follows on from the success of its Lincolnshire factory, where a water recycling and anaerobic digestion plant have been installed.

Carys Matthews

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