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.
✓ 2% reduction in water use intensity (15% reduction by 2030)*
1 - The baseline for our ‘Caring for our Planet’ targets is the year ended 31 December 2019.
2 – Further details can be found on page 61 of our Annual Report
*This figure represents the amount used in our continued operations following the separation in April 2022 of the Tate & Lyle group into two standalone businesses – Tate & Lyle and Primient.
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.
A seal pot is a system that enables the water required to cool and lubricate pumps to be reused. Installing 53 new seal pots on our pumps at our plant in Sagamore, Indiana, US, together with adjustments to dryer sanitation schedules, reduced the plant’s water consumption by over 26 million gallons.
For several years we have been transitioning from coal use to cleaner energy sources in our plants, and in 2021 we eradicated coal use in our network four years ahead of schedule. 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.
Our team in Boleraz, Slovakia, installed water meters in all major water consumption areas, which provide a daily water measurement. This enables us to identify any unusual or ‘out-of-specification’ readings so we can take immediate action to rectify any problems. For example, in the cooling tower, we not only have an individual water meter but also a conductivity meter to measure the water consumption over time as well as quality. This avoids any water overflow and allows us to re-use water instead of requiring additional water to control the temperature of the equipment, also known as a closed water system.
In Noto, Italy, an area noted for water scarcity, our team carried out a project to introduce new processes for water purification, which reduces water wastage by allowing water to be treated and re-used. Thanks to the technology used, Noto is expected to achieve a 50% reduction in water use*.
*Expected water reductions in the year starting 1 April 2023.
Our team in Guarani, Brazil, has set up a group called ‘Water Guardians’, whose main goal is to reduce water consumption. Consisting of representatives from various areas of the site - production, maintenance, warehouse and facilities - the group have implemented a monthly routine to assess three main focus areas: water leakage, equipment efficiency and new water-saving ideas. Every month they meet to discuss the results of the checklist and to work on suggestions raised by other colleagues.
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.