Developments in the logistics sector for sustainable water use

Within the history of the transportation and logistics industry, the focus of sustainable operation and sustainability developments is on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, for understandable reasons. Yet these days, an increasing number of large logistics firms recognise the importance of sustainable water management and the economic advantages it offers.

Waterscan, a consultancy company advising on water stewardship, water management, water recycling and water sustainability in the United Kingdom, offers assistance with water management projects in a number of industries. According to their experience so far, focussing on the water management area generally has a triple motivation.

Most importantly, in an economic environment with sustained uncertainty, strict cost management is a must. Water generally appears to be an insignificant item in a profit and loss analysis, but a thorough water management programme can produce savings both in the short and the long run. Secondly, it is important to ensure that the company complies with environmental protection regulations and objectives. Finally, a complete restructuring of the water management market is imminent, and by 2017, it will stir up the existing stagnant waters completely. At present, a company operating at a number of sites can be dealing with up to 35 different water utility providers, each with their own tariffs and fees. Standardisation and simplification will reduce the time and cost requirements of administration radically and cooperation will become more transparent.

Although relative to other industries, logistics and transportation do not use large quantities of water, if the water supply to depots, the cleaning of vehicles and drinking water are all taken into account, the amount consumed is not insignificant. Most of the activities involved can be performed using recycled water – such as the external and internal cleaning of vehicles and the water supply to hygiene facilities at business premises, which can all be supplied with rainwater, which may result in a 30% reduction in the use of water from the water supply at the annual level, particularly for logistics companies whose depots and warehouses have significant roof areas that allow large surfaces to be used for collecting rainwater for later use. An additional solution and an approximately 40% saving is offered by grey water recycling, which can be a particularly significant item when used for cleaning large vehicles.

Through the introduction of a number of water saving projects, Waterscan have seen that the use of alternative water use, recycling and water management techniques can be used to reduce the water consumption of the logistics and transportation industry by up to 70%, which is a significant saving from the water management and environmental protection as well as the financial perspective.

Source: Susan Deane