As its name suggests, corn wet milling is a water-intensive process. Water is, of course, a shared resource, which means we need to ensure that our use of water is sustainable not only for ourselves, but the communities we operate in and the planet live on.
In 2020, we set ourselves a target to reduce water use intensity by 15% by 2030.
To accomplish our goal, we conducted a global water risk and opportunities assessment to inform our development of meaningful reduction projects that can be tested and then implemented at many sites to improve efficiencies.
Every site in our network has smart water targets as part of their annual strategic planning to sustainably improve control of environmental risks and opportunities. To drive continuous improvement, we established a global team with environmental, quality, and engineering expertise to develop and organise impactful water use reduction projects.
How do you reduce water use in ingredient production? Here are a few examples!
In our facility in Decatur, Illinois, US, we introduced new filtration membranes to the wastewater treatment operation to improve performance. By reducing wastewater solids by 50%, the membranes increase the quality of water leaving our site while establishing the ability to reuse that treated wastewater on-site.
For several years we have been transitioning from coal use to cleaner energy sources in our plants, and we are working to eradicate coal use in our network by 2025. Less coal means cleaner air in our communities, which also means there is less need for the ‘scrubbers’ in our plants that clean the air and require water, resulting in a drop in water consumption.
Our team in Nantong, China identified a project that cut the facility’s water use by improving the site’s evaporator, which removes water from our products. The new evaporation scheme creates a vacuum effect, replacing the need for a fan that required electricity. The steam condensation is then collected and reused on site. The project also significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions from onsite energy use.
There are more details in our latest Annual Report
Find out how we progressed in the last year and our future commitments in our latest annual report.