Benchmarking and identification of best practice associated with industrial water use in UK
Ajiero, Ikenna Reginald
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In the wake of the phenomenal growth rate of fresh water use globally, the need to ensure security of supply and maintain optimal competiveness in water business has heralded the increasing awareness to measure and compare water use by means of meaningful metrics, performance indicators and benchmarks. Thus, in view of the historically intensive use of water by UK industry, this research set out to benchmark the sector’s water use; the overarching aim being to deduce performance gaps in water use by industry, identify best-in-class practices associated with industrial water use, and proffer efficient improvement strategies for optimal performance in the sector. To achieve this aim, and in line with the research funder’s anticipated outcome of this study, a benchmarking software called “i-Water Benchmarking Tool” was developed. Although, few tools and methodologies are available for benchmarking performance with respect to water usage, but most of these tools are mainly domestic water use specific, developed by, and are within the ownership of commercial organizations. Hence, the rationale behind the software development is to provide a robust, user-friendly and accessible tool that can be used to benchmark water use across industrial subsectors and establish the basis for improvement in performance. Based on the foregoing, comprehensive data were sourced from UK water undertakings, trade bodies and environmental agencies, and used to conduct statistical data analyses and performance benchmarking. Results of the analyses revealed that in England and Wales, from 2003 – 2013, “Metals” constituted the highest consumptive water user (43% water use in the manufacturing sector alone), even with the sub-sector’s 51.31% decline in water use during this period; followed by “Chemicals” (20.52%) with a 45.86% decrease in water use. The third, “Petrochemicals” (15.15%), with a 54.02% water use reduction; fourth, “Paper and printing” (6.15%), showing a 51.64% decline; then, “Food and Drinks” being the fifth most intensive water user (5.32%) also indicated a 17.73% decrease in water use. For Scotland, from 2008/09 to 2014/15, “Distilled potable alcoholic beverages” took up the largest consumptive water (30.21%), but exhibited a 16.51% water use decline; the second, “Basic pharmaceutical products” (26.61%) had an 18.51% water use decrease; the third, “Paper and paperboard” (19.35%), revealing a 31.90% increase in water use; fourth, “Beer” (4.91%) with an 18.42% water use decline; then the fifth, “Liquid milk and cream” (4.26%) with a 0.42% reduction in water use between 2008/09 and 2014/15 also. Lastly, in Northern Ireland, from 2011-12 to 2013-14, “Food” used the largest water (57.39%) showing a 3.823% decline in water use during this period; “Non Metals” (10%) with 5.32% decrease; “Electronics” (8.77%) with 20.42% reduction; “Chemical” (8.76%) with a 10.12% water use increase; and lastly, “Drink” (6.33%) with an 11.68% decline in water use. To this end, with 80% of the products indicating a decline in water use, it is inferred that industrial water use in the UK is significantly declining. Accordingly, of the 53 benchmarked companies, 3 companies’ water use performance were ranked “Excellent”; 20 companies, “Average”; while the remaining 30 companies’ performance were “Poor”. In sum, it is envisaged that this project will lead to the definition of a methodology that can be applied to produce same outputs for sectors not covered in this initial project.