The availability of water quantity and quality is necessary for all life on the planet. With the increasing world population and increased demand for products and services that require large volumes to obtain them, its availability has become an increasingly urgent concern.
Grupo Nutresa is aware that its performance against the integral management of this resource is vital to obtain raw materials from its suppliers and efficiency in industrial operations.
All human activities depend entirely on the availability of water resources, both in terms of quality and quantity.
Of all the fresh water used in the world, 68% is consumed by agriculture and 11% in industrial activities. Border conflicts over water are increasingly accentuated, and regulations on consumption and the quality of liquid discharges are increased.
The increase in or shortage of water is one of the effects facing the planet from climate change, which will bring problems in physical infrastructure and transport. As for the raw materials that Grupo Nutresa uses, they may be negatively affected by climatic uncertainty that can damage crops, either by an excess or shortage of water.
Additionally, in areas where shortages are already present, competition for water will mark social relations and define in which areas productive activities cannot be established due to increasing water scarcity and the growing demand for the resource by communities.
This, added to the fact that for countries in the strategic region – such as Chile, Mexico and the Dominican Republic – most of their territories have been classified as high or very high water risks, which has led Grupo Nutresa to incorporate the sustainable use of water throughout its value chain as a strategic issue for its future success.
Thus, under the framework of strategic action, the Environmental Commitment and the guidelines of the Corporate Environmental Policy, we have developed a Water Resource Policy to establish Grupo Nutresa’s performance against the risks and opportunities arising from its use.
Within its strategic objectives, we have proposed a goal of reducing the water–consumption indicator (m3/t.p.) in industrial operations by 30% by 2020.
This policy seeks to regulate actions against the integral management of a vital resource to obtain raw materials by suppliers of the Organization and against the intensity of water use in industrial operations, thus reducing consumption and improving the quality of water used.
Grupo Nutresa advances in the Environmental Commitment to improve efficiency in water use and conservation.
Optimization of water consumption
With the implementation of practices for the efficient management of cooling towers, the standardization of activities to wash equipment and facilities, and condensate recovery in heating systems (boilers), as important foci of work, we have advanced in reducing water consumption per ton produced by 3,2% compared to 2013, which contributes to the cumulative reduction of 15,5% against the 2010 indicator.
The activities to optimize processes and recuperate water currents in productive processes permit maintaining a level of water reuse of 4,93% of the total water used in all operations in Colombia, equivalent to 74.599 m3/year.
Percentage and total volume of recycled and reused water
- The project to reuse water in the Pasta Business in its Mosquera, Cundinamarca, plant, which advanced in its third stage and permitted the use of treated industrial wastewater in indirect cooling processes, which reduced the consumption of potable water.
- The continuity of the Coffee Business in the project to recover condensates from steam and from distillates in the evaporation process.
- The Cold Cuts Business, with the continuity of recovery and reuse of autoclave waters.
- The Ice Cream Business, at its plant in Bogotá, implemented an improvement process to reuse water in pasteurization equipment, recovering the liquid that is used to sterilize the equipment, to then store it and use it to manufacture mixtures. The recovery of water at high temperatures allows reducing the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) load, with savings of 240 m3/year.
As for the use of water in service activities, the practices developed have been focused on optimizing washing activities in the physical installations, to ensure maintaining the conditions of hygiene and Best Manufacturing Practices (BMP), but being rational with water use.
In the Biscuit Business, at its plant in Medellín, the installation of 77 modern sanitary units and the use of water–saving devices will reduce water consumption by 50%, compared to former levels, posting a savings of 5.492 m3/year.
Direct water catchment, that which comes from surface water, ground water and rainfall sources, remains at a level of less than 16% of the total water collected, where municipal aqueduct systems supply 84% of the water used for industrial operations. All water catchments not supplied by aqueduct systems meet the requirements of environmental authorities as to the amounts that may be extracted from each source. In this sense, the Organization does not significantly affect any sources from which it is served.
Total water catchment according to the source
Commitment to water–resource management and promoting responsible use
One of the elements of Grupo Nutresa’s Water Resources Policy is to promote active participation in management programs of watersheds that are related to operations. This motivated Grupo Nutresa to participate as a founding partner in the creation of the Corporación Cuenca Verde (Green Basin Corporation) Water Fund, focused on preserving environmental services in the supply basins of the reservoirs that provide water to municipalities in the Aburrá Valley. These reservoirs provide 90% of the water for the 3,5 million inhabitants of the valley where Medellín is located. During 2014, we continued to support the activities of Cuenca Verde by promoting opportunities for training and disseminating best practices with companies from different sectors.
Additionally, there is continued investment in treatment systems of industrial wastewater to improve the quality of the dumpings. Thus, in some of the production centers, projects to optimize the operation of Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) are carried out, while in others, plants were built, including the Ice Cream Business in Manizales, the Pasta Business in Barranquilla and the Coffee Business in Santa Marta. Noteworthy is the WWTP construction process at the Cold Cut Business in Bogotá, which required an investment of COP 1.485 Billion, which is projected to comply with the parameters of Decree 3930 of 2010.
Additional value of water to drive water–efficiency projects
During 2014, Grupo Nutresa developed a proposed model to incorporate additional value to the price that is paid to water suppliers for the use of the resource. This value will be used internally by the Organization and will be added to the amount by which water is valued today in the technological–updating projects of production operations, to increase the financial return on the evaluation of their economic viability. This will increase the likelihood of approving these water–savings projects in response to the low economic return presented by them in the past.
The main challenge for companies in the food sector on water management is to minimize the impact of their operations on this vital resource and, given that the water footprint means only 2% of the total water footprint of the Organization, we must work in the extended chain with supplier practices and impacts.
That is why Grupo Nutresa has set short–, medium– and long–term plans seeking to have sustainable water management to address shortages, contamination and governance of the resource as fundamental pillars of work.
During 2015, we will explore the possibility of implementing actions to mitigate the contamination that pig–production farms can generate on watersheds. The possibility of conducting this work is being studied together with the Cuenca Verde Water Fund to be developed in the areas of influence of the basins that supply the Riogrande and La Fe reservoirs, the principal water supplies for the city of Medellín, in Colombia.
Likewise, we will begin the diagnosis of corporate water efficiency to focus work plans where they are needed, according to situations of risk and water stress and conditions of consumption.
Currently, we are evaluating accompaniment alternatives by suppliers and experts in the field of water, in order to assess initiatives and new proposals to be implemented by the businesses in the coming years, to achieve the 2020 target set of decreasing water consumption by 30%. Some of these water–efficiency projects have been incorporated for investments in 2015 and it is projected that their viability be assessed to implement them from now until 2020. To this end, in 2015 we will implement the incorporation of an additional value of water consumed within the economic–feasibility study of water–saving projects.
Stage III water reuse
The Pasta Business plant in Mosquera advanced in the third stage of the project to reuse industrial water, by using treated industrial wastewater to feed the processes of indirect cooling, reducing the direct consumption of potable water. The water–reuse system is divided into three main parts:
- Treatment: This passes through a filtration system, ionic–exchange units, ultrafiltration and, finally, through reverse–osmosis equipment.
- Storage: The system has a softened–water storage tank that works as a reserve for treated water to be used in the system to distribute technical services.
- Pumping: The softened water stored in the tank by a pump sends the liquid to the osmosis equipment that will be used later on in the technical services.
- The implementation of the third stage of water reuse increased the reuse of treated wastewater and decreased the total dumping by 30%. Total potable water consumption in the company was reduced by 11%. In 2014, 4.908 m3/year were reused.
Public management of the water–resource commitment
During 2014, Grupo Nutresa participated as an active member of the CEO Water Mandate Steering Committee and actively worked to involve new signatories to this commitment. Likewise, during 2014, the Organization supported the launch of the CEO Water Mandate in Colombia and participated as a panelist in the disclosure event. It also led the celebration of the III Encounter for Water in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, and published its commitment and practices, and promoted the progress of companies from other sectors towards the strategic management of the resource.
Continuity of the Corporate Water Footprint study
In 2012, the first corporate water footprint exercise was performed for all Grupo Nutresa industrial plants. Each year, we evaluate the water footprint of the businesses, since the modifications made in the production plants through projects to save, reuse water and treat wastewater alter the standards of operation and, in turn, the final value of the footprint. This study has served as a guideline to focus projects on the value chain.