Food companies reduce water consumption by 20 per cent
A number of Danish food companies have partnered to come up with solutions that have achieved water savings equal to the annual water consumption of roughly 23,000 people.
Friday 07 October 2022
Clean drinking water is a valuable resource. Since 2015, a number of Danish companies and knowledge institutions have therefore worked together in the DRIP partnership to develop new sustainable water and production technology solutions and concepts to enable Danish food companies to produce more using less water.
And they have succeeded in this. Although the participating companies were already water-efficient, they have managed to cut their water consumption by more than 900,000 m3/year through the DRIP partnership. This corresponds to 20 per cent of the water consumption of the participating food companies, or the annual water consumption of approximately 23,000 people.
The partnership has also demonstrated the possibility of further water saving measures, which would equate to a total water saving of 32 per cent.
Both water and energy saving
The DRIP partnership is run by the Danish Agriculture & Food Council with participation of 18 food and technology companies, knowledge institutions, including DTU, as well as the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.
“In DRIP, impressive results have been achieved which have not only saved water but also reduced energy consumption. We hope that the Danish solutions can also be used in other countries which face more serious challenges with water shortages. In this way, the partnership has also contributed to several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These are pure win-win solutions, where you reduce the environmental impact while the companies become more efficient and save money,” says Flemming Nør-Pedersen, CEO, Danish Agriculture & Food Council.
“It has been fantastic to see a change towards a more open and positive attitude to becoming more water efficient and utilizing water resources better. It is clear how the dialogue between the partners has been facilitating - and probably also necessary - in changing attitudes to what’s acceptable. In particular, I believe that it has been beneficial for the authorities to be involved in the process and dialogue, and to have transparently experienced the knowledge institutions’ risk assessments and documentation of the processes. This has helped build up trust in the technological solutions,” says Professor Hans-Jørgen Albrechtsen, DTU Sustain.
"DRIP has created very impressive water-saving results and brand-new technological solutions in an area in which Denmark is actually already a world leader. There has been a high degree of inventiveness, sparring, and openness between the different participants, and we’ve had a time frame that made it possible to explore completely new paths and thus create something truly unique. I’m very proud to have been part of this,” says Karen Sørensen, Project Manager, Danish Technological Institute.
Tangible value for society
DRIP is supported by Innovation Fund Denmark, which has invested DKK 50 million in the partnership.
“It’s always highly gratifying when the projects and partnerships in which Innovation Fund Denmark has invested create tangible value for society. We invest in innovation that has the potential to create new solutions to the biggest challenges faced by our society and to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of Danish society. This must be said to be the case for the DRIP partnership, which has created great results and solutions that can contribute to the green transition—both in and outside Denmark,” says Annemarie Munk Riis, CEO (acting) of Innovation Fund Denmark.
The DRIP partnership’s work has included focusing on a paradigm shift in industrial water efficiency by demonstrating a ‘water-fit-for-purpose’ concept, in which significantly less potable water is used. This has enabled companies to distinguish between where it is necessary to use fresh drinking water and where water can instead be collected from other places in the production - something the companies were unable to do before. The water is then treated onsite to a quality where it can be reused elsewhere in the company. To achieve this, new technologies for water treatment and extraction of residues from water flows have been used, combined with continuous monitoring of water quality.
The partnership has also worked with more well-known approaches to optimization, where the partners have been able to benefit greatly from sharing experiences from different branches of the Danish food production industry.
Arla Foods, Carlsberg, Danish Crown, HK Scan, TripleNine, Alfa Laval, Aquaporin, Grundfos, LiqTech, Siemens, Tetra Pak, UltraAqua, DTU Food, DTU Environment, DTU Chemical Engineering, IN-Water, Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, Danish Technological Institute, Danish Agriculture & Food Council