Chemical manufacturing water efficiency

Chemical manufacturing water use reduction step-by-step


The most effective way to cut water use in your chemicals business is to take a step-by-step approach:

1. Win the support of senior managers and carry out an initial review of water use, waste and effluent production - gather evidence to make a business case.

2. Appoint a champion who will make the process effective, give them a team if necessary and the authority and time to get things done.

3. Gather information by taking meter readings, monitoring key processes and developing a mass balance - see our guide on how to monitor your water use.

4. Analyse the data and investigate potential problems with a specific focus on improving efficiency and saving money. Look at the effect of product changes and compare water use and effluent generation in similar processes or plants.

5. Look at options for improvement in each process or for each product. For example, see if you could:

  • eliminate water use completely
  • reduce water use by optimising the process
  • reuse water where possible
  • dispose of effluent only as a last resort, and make sure it is done efficiently

6. Produce an action plan setting out problem areas, priority improvements, targets and timescales. Communicate the plan and potential benefits to everyone concerned and get comments.

7. Implement the plan using teamwork so there is widespread 'buy-in'. Maintain interest and motivation by regular communication.

8. Review progress regularly and adapt the plan to take account of business changes or to improve the effectiveness of monitoring and success of implementation.

For more information, see our guide on water reviews, policies and action plans.

If you operate an environmental management system, or intend to set one up, you should manage your water use as part of your environmental management systems.