With safeguarding our environment being a topic with an undeniably far-reaching impact, businesses have in recent years increased their efforts to ensure they are complying with relevant environmental legislation.
In recent years, more and more emphasis has been placed on water use across the globe. Demand for water is rising and it is estimated that approximately 1.8 billion people will experience water shortage in their area by 2025.
With such frightening statistics becoming more widely known, it is impossible to ignore that we are heading towards a global water crisis, whose early signs are already plain to see. And businesses here in the UK certainly have a role to play.
Here, Martin Smith, Managing Director of adi Environmental, a division of engineering firm adi Group that focuses on delivering environmentally compliant solutions for businesses, discusses the challenges and the risks surrounding water management and treatment.
A conscious choice or just a requirement?
As well as resulting in fines and penalties, failure to comply with environmental legislation can affect businesses in a number of ways and, ultimately, affect the environment as well as human health. So, are business owners making changes for the right reasons?
Though environmental regulations are enforced by regulatory bodies and governments, many now feel that it is an ethical responsibility to enact measures dedicated to protecting the environment, as well as to more responsibly utilise natural resources.
Businesses that make a demonstrable commitment to environmentally friendly practices and ways of operating have also been shown to receive more support from consumers.
"Greener" businesses that have already implemented, or are seeking to implement, ecofriendly ways of operating, naturally become futureproof, maximising their investment value. Sustainability is not a passing trend, and businesses are acutely aware of this.
This does not mean, however, that all businesses know how to expertly navigate environmental compliance or what to prioritise.
An increased focus on industrial water use
Globally, approximetly 17% of water withdrawals are utilised for industrial purposes. This means businesses can take a number of steps to address the amount of water consumed, but also the way water is discharged and how to better manage operations that require the use of water.
Water is necessary for a number of processes in manufacturing and other industries, such as for fabricating products, cooling equipment, washing, diluting and even transportation.
Industrial water use generates vast quantities of wastewater, which can have disastrous effects on the environment if not managed properly. Wastewater is laced with by-products used during a variety of processes and, depending on the industry, water treatment procedures differ accordingly. But what are the challenges of environmental compliance in this regard?
Making a difference with water treatment
Wastewater should be treated appropriately before being discharged, as the risks of failing to dispose of it correctly can be particularly severe. These include contamination of soil and water pollution resulting in damage to flora and fauna – wastewater may even find its way into water utilised by human beings for drinking or bathing, potentially causing diseases.
Water treatment plants should look to minimise the polluting content of wastewater, and may even enable owners to recycle and reuse wastewater, creating a self-sufficient circular micro-economy within a business, which may help business owners cut costs.
Huge food and drink companies such as PepsiCo have had wastewater recycling processes in place for a number of years, achieving outstanding results, such as reducing water usage by 26% while also saving $80 million in operational costs.
What does it take to comply?
Water treatment is primarily needed to prevent scale, corrosion, deposition and Legionella bacteria colonisation.
Legislation surrounding the control of Legionella bacteria in water systems is particularly important; and to remain compliant, services such as risk assessments, awareness training, control equipment design and build, and water sampling/microbiological analysis are nothing short of essential.
Overall, monitoring and auditing, as well as regular maintenance and cleaning/disinfection of water systems is essential, as is having access to suitable water treatment chemicals and support services to optimise performance and minimise risks.
Safe and effective environmental compliance solutions
Environmental compliance is a delicate business. With a wealth of experience in the field, adi Environmental provides effective environmental management solutions and risk assessments for a number of industries and large end users in a variety of fields.