Businessses across England and Wales could increase their profits by £3.5 billion simply by adopting improved water-saving measures, according to the Environment Agency.
The news comes as companies were recognised this week for their efforts to reduce water use. The overall winner, Lafarge Cement UK, has reduced its water use by 95 per cent and is now saving £14,000 a year in associated electricity costs at one of its sites. The company’s Cauldon Cement Works in Waterhouses, Staffordshire was rewarded for reducing its water use by using an innovative water recycling system deployed in a Special Area of Conservation.
Businesses currently use around 9.8 billion cubic metres of water each year — but nearly a third of it could be saved, bringing around £10 million savings each day, or over £3.5 billion each year. Not only would that boost profits, but it would help companies play their part in the fight against climate change by reducing their carbon footprint from the energy needed to treat water before supply.
For the whole UK, the supply and treatment of water is responsible for around 4 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
By 2050, climate change could reduce the amount of water available in Britain by up to 15 per cent. With the population predicted to rise by 20 million people at the same time, water demand in England and Wales will be stretched even further.
The Water Efficiency Awards is the leading scheme in England and Wales to recognise the achievements of business in promoting water efficiency. Each of the nine Water Efficiency Award winners demonstrated an innovative approach to saving water.
In addition to Lafarge Cement UK, other Water Efficiency Award winners included Save Water Save Money Ltd, whose campaign to promote water efficiency in schools is estimated to have saved over 14 million litres of water a year, and Berkeley Homes, who undertook a study into water restrictions and its impact on selling homes.
“Water resources are already under pressure because of the increasing numbers of people living in certain areas — in some parts of the country there is less available water per person than Spain or Morocco,” said Paul Leinster, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency. “As well as reducing the UK’s carbon footprint, reducing demand for water will help protect wetland habitats and wildlife, as well as helping to ensure that there is enough water for people and the environment in the face of climate change.”
Leinster continued, “At a tough time for business it was a pleasure to see such a high calibre of entries with so many organisations committed to improving their water efficiency. This year’s entries have demonstrated how water efficiency can offer both cost and carbon savings for businesses.”