The Pahiatua site was already Fonterra's most water efficient. © Google
New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra has installed a ‘ground-breaking’ reclaimed water system at its plant in Pahiatua, on the country’s North Island.
The company expects the system to save half a million litres of groundwater every day – the equivalent to 18 milk tanker’s worth – significantly reducing the environmental footprint of the site.
The groundwater recovery system that Fonterra has developed finds a way to reuse water from condensation that is produced during the milk powder manufacturing process. The P3 milk powder plant at Pahiatua, which was built in 2015, was already completely self-sufficient for water, meaning it does not use any groundwater in the manufacturing process.
But previously, the excess water produced from the evaporators were typically used for irrigation on nearby farmland. Now, rather than irrigate the excess water, the new reclaimed water system treats the excess water using reverse osmosis and chlorination before combining it with the site’s main water supply for general use.
Fonterra’s global COO, Robert Spurway, said: “Pahiatua is already Fonterra New Zealand’s most water efficient site, and some clever thinking has taken it to the next level. As an organisation, we’ve committed to a 20% reduction in water use by 2020. Pahiatua is well ahead of the game.”
The Pahiatua plant is just 12 miles from Palmerston North, where Fonterra operates its flagship Research and Development Centre (FRDC).
Tracey Collis, the head of the local council area, said: “[I am] extremely proud of the team at Fonterra and their ongoing commitment to sustainability. On several occasions they have hosted councillors, staff and Iwi on site to share information on new technology and view the systems in action.
“We very much appreciate the transparency and passion shown by Fonterra to continually use technological efficiencies, which also have environmental benefits. This creates a win-win outcome for all.”
And Gordon McKellar, chair of the environment committee for Manawatu-Whanganui’s regional council, added: “Practices like reclaimed water systems are a great way to involve staff in sustainability initiatives that will improve their local environment.”
McKellar congratulated Fonterra for adopting “innovative systems that will directly reduce water use in Pahiatua”.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019