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Campbell's Upgrading Production Processes to Cut Water Use by 50%

Campbell's Napoleon, Ohio plant | Image credit: The Toledo Blade

Campbell Soup Company has announced that it is re-evaluating its production processes in order to reduce by 50 percent of its operational water use per ton of food produced by 2020.

The company says it has achieved a 20.7 percent reduction in operational water use in 2013, against a 2008 baseline. Last year Campbell’s reduced water use by 2.6 percent per ton of food produced, and since 2008, total cumulative water savings have been around 4.8 billion gallons.

Campbell’s says it wants to continue making progress by standardizing its most water-intensive operations, primarily those facilities that produce soup, sauce and juice products, making them more energy-efficient in the process.

The company already has implemented water conversation measures across its manufacturing plants. The most effective of these has been heat recovery from cooling water processes for canned and bottled products.

Campbell’s has reduced wastewater consumption at its Napoleon, Ohio, plant by a third in the past five years. Some 80 percent of the facility's hot water is recycled and used to preheat water for steam. Other effective measures include training of employees to incorporate water and energy conservation measures into their daily activities and improved plant cleaning methods and procedures, the company says.

Each year, Campbell’s performs a site-by-site mapping of water usage, which is cross-referenced with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's (WBCSD) global water tool to include near and long-term water scarcity — taking stock of facility water intake, recycled water and wastewater extraction procedures.

The tool, using close to 30 external datasets from various research and creditable sources, analyzes plant data (geospatial and water records) against the external datasets and provides important information on water dependency, water purification/treatment and water risk on a country level, as well as water supply and water scarcity per country and local watershed levels.

Widespread drought, especially in California, is pressing business and governments alike to rethink how they approach water issues. For example, a Kentucky-based startup called Okeanos has developed a next-generation, ultra-efficient desalination technology that is able to desalinate millionths of a liter at a time using tiny microstructures, which are then massively paralleled to produce useful water flows. Desalination in tiny volumes allows the company to exploit a form of energy that cannot be generated in “macroscale.”

In Silicon Valley, Google, Adobe, eBay and several other technology companies are embracing innovation to reduce water consumption. Google is considering installing new technology such as urinal cakes containing enzymes that calcify urine so that toilets only have to be flushed a few times each day. This could save around 500,000 gallons of water a year.


Currently based in Washington, D.C, Mike Hower is a writer and strategic communicator helping to drive the conversation at the intersection of sustainable business and public policy. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from University of California,… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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