A Complete Guide to Saving Water in the Workplace

Global water usage – What is the problem? 

A lack of clean water has had devastating effects on parts of the world for many decades. It is sometimes considered only an issue for third world countries and far away places, but a lack of clean water is due to become increasingly widespread over the next twenty to thirty years and no one is immune to its effects. Rising demand from industry and agriculture to sustain a growing population means we are using more water than the planet can sustain.

When we think of water usage we generally think of the water we drink, bathe in, use for washing clothes and so on.  What we rarely consider is the water used to get our food to the table, and to create the products in our home and lives. 

Saving water at home and in the workplace will help reduce water usage, waste, and costs, while also protecting the environment.

What is the impact of water scarcity?

The United Nations World Water Development Report of 2018 stated that nearly six billion people will suffer from a lack of clean water by 2050. A perfect storm of the effects of climate change and an ever increasing growth in population and demand means we are using more water than is feasible for the long term. 

Impact On People

Water scarcity has a devastating impact on communities. Many countries are ’water stressed’, meaning they suffer high levels of water scarcity for their population requirements. 

Where there is no water, crops cannot be grown, and animals cannot be fed. Food shortages and famine can occur quickly and with devastating effects. Economies struggle in this environment and civil unrest related to water shortage is not uncommon. Populations may try to migrate to areas where water is more accessible, adding pressure and unrest to those regions in cases where there is not enough water to cater for the population increase. 

Impact on Health 

According to the Water Project, over 80% of illnesses in developing nations have been linked to water scarcity and water-related sanitation issues. Where clean water is scarce or not available, people are forced to take their chances with dirty water, leading to disease and death from cholera, typhoid, and a range of other waterborne diseases. As available clean water continues to diminish around the world, health related illnesses and associated deaths will inevitably rise.

Impact on Wildlife

Water scarcity and pollution has a significant impact on wildlife, not only in the ways you might think. As we continue to extract water from rivers, lakes and reservoirs we reduce the habitat of millions of animals and insects, as well as that of their food sources. The water we pump back into the world is continually more heavily contaminated, notably with plastics as well as a range of chemicals and pollutants that make wetlands uninhabitable. Since the 1960s half of biodiversity in the UK has been wiped out and numbers continue to decline. You can read more about the impact of water consumption on wildlife in our Look After Water, Look After Wildlife article

Impact on the Environment

Equally alarming is the impact on the environment as a whole, with water scarcity directly linked to loss of wetlands, pollution of waterways and lakes, and increased salinity making the water unsuitable for use by man and beast. Insects swarm looking for new habitats to move to, wildfires increase, and soil suffers. Ecosystems fail and species fall into decline, and the situation only stands to get worse unless urgent action is taken. 

Impact on Agriculture 

Agriculture uses more of the worlds water than any other sector, as well as being a sector which suffers the most from water scarcity. Without adequate water supplies crops and livestock cannot thrive and climate change has a huge impact on this industry. A reduction in waste and implementation of sustainable water practices ins essential to helping reduce the impact of agriculture on water availability and help reduce pollution. 

Why is it important to save water? 

Only 1-2.5% of all the water on Earth is suitable for human consumption. It is a finite resource, we only have so much of it, and the more the global population grows, the more thinly our reserves are spread. Increased industrialisation and manufacturing leads to an inordinate amount of water being used and we need more than we have. 

It is also important to save water because we cannot create it. Water is one of the worlds marvels that cannot be reproduced in a lab without an explosion and cannot be created at scale. 

Desalination of sea water is one way countries are creating new water sources for themselves. Desalination plants are present in a number of countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, China United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Desalination technology has helped countries deal with their water crises for now, but it comes at a cost.  

Financially, desalination is a laborious and expensive business, meaning it is more available to countries who can afford it, as opposed to those who need it most. Equally as important, desalination produces vast amounts of brine and chemical by-product as it is extracted, which must be deposited somewhere. This by product is harmful to the environment and is currently being sent back into the sea, stored underground, or spread over land. None of these solutions are viable for the long term, and increased salinity in the ocean caused by the introduction of this product threatens local ecosystems. Saving the water we have is a far better solution on all fronts than relying on potential harmful technologies. 

Benefits of saving water in the workplace  

The effects of water shortages on the planet and the impact on the global population is enough to get anyone thinking about saving water at home and in the workplace. Saving water in the workplace has other practical benefits which can help lower water bills and reduce the water footprint of your business. At the same time, providing education in the workplace can lead to positive habits at work and at home.

Reducing water cost at work

Using intelligent water solutions to reduce water consumption in the workplace immediately reduces not only your water bills, but your wastewater bill too. 

Effect of saving water on brand image 

Committing to reducing water waste and improving efficiency shows your customers you are serious about your impact on the environment. Many consumers and service users will go out of their way to find an environmentally friendly supplier, and this can help you stand out from the crowd, draw a larger piece of the market and grow your profit margins in turn. 

Installing water saving devices in your workplace washroom helps to improve the customer experience and showcases your investment and commitment to sustainability. Read more about reducing water bills and improving your customer's washroom experience. 

Reduced energy consumption 

Less water being used means less energy being used, and this has a direct impact on your energy bills. Installing water saving equipment brings down your water bills and helps to reduce energy bills at the same time. You can find out more about saving energy along with reducing water bills in our Water and Energy Saving article

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions

Getting clean, treated water to your place of work uses a lot of energy. It needs to be pumped, treated and often heated, so the less you use, lower levels of energy by products are created.  

Early policy and legislation adoption 

Getting a head start on the competition with water policy and legislation can have a positive impact on your organisation in the longer term. Early adopters are often incentivised with rebates and customers can see you are proactive in your approach to saving water in the workplace.

Save Water to Save Money 

There really is no downside to taking steps to reduce water consumption in your workplace. Saving water at work has a range of benefits from saving money to improving brand identity and improving the customer and employee experience, as well as saving the planet and its people. If you are not sure where to start, speak to the team at Citron Hygiene about our water efficiency audits to pinpoint where your business could save water and reduce costs. 

What is your water footprint? 

The water footprint of your business is determined by the water you use directly and indirectly in your business, covering operational and supply chain water use. Determining the water footprint of your business can help you benchmark your performance against standards for your industry, and find ways to save water in your day to day operations and supply chain. You can find out more about your water footprint at the Water Footprint Network, and try their calculators to discover the water footprint of your company. 

How much water can really be saved by businesses?

Even small steps can have a big impact on the water footprint of your business, and on your water bills. Business water rates are higher than ever and are only set to increase so the sooner you start improving your washroom water efficiency the sooner you start saving. 

Our intelligent water saving manager calculator shows your potential savings in seconds. Simply fill in the required fields and hit ‘calculate’. 

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How to reduce water usage in the workplace – top tips 

Here we offer water saving tips and recommendations for preserving water in your place of work, helping save the planet and lower bills at the same time. 

Educate staff about water efficiency 

One of the most effective ways to save water in your workplace is to talk about it. Highlight the effects of water scarcity by arranging a talk with your staff and explain the importance of saving water wherever possible. You may wish to consider bringing in a water efficiency expert to give this talk and answer any questions your employees may have. 

Consider putting up posters in water use areas such as the kitchen and washroom to remind staff about the many ways they can make a difference and reduce water waste. 

Commercial water saving devices to check water usage

Installing a smart water monitor means access to accurate, real-time data on your water usage. You may be surprised where your water is being wasted, and just how much is going straight down the drain. The first step is understanding how water is being used in your business so you can take proactive steps to reduce your usage. 

 

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Fixing leaks and drips 

Even small leaks and drops can waste many litres of water each year. Ensure any leaking taps, pipes, toilets and equipment are fixed as soon as possible, and have your maintenance team perform routine to checks to ensure everything stays watertight. 

Saving water in the kitchen 

The kitchen is one of the largest sources of water usage in most places of work. With multiple people milling in and out all day it can be easy for a workplace kitchen to become inefficient and wasteful with water. 

Washing up: Discuss water saving tips with your staff and arrange a system for washing up so you do not have every member of staff washing up one cup or piece of crockery at a time as this wastes many litres of water every day and solutions can easily be found. For example, you may wish to suggest a washing up rota, so each member washes up on days in rotation. This means far less water being used every day in just one task. Ensure users do not wash up under running water as this also uses a lot of water wastefully.

Dishwashers: If you have a dishwasher, check its efficiency and make sure it is water efficient. If not, consider replacing it with something more environmentally friendly. 

Did you know? Which found that dishwashers are on average 4 times more efficient than washing up by hand. 

Check hot water temperature: If your hot water is set to high, your employees will be continually battling to bring it down, adding cold water to hot and wasting a lot of water. This goes for your washrooms too. 

Saving water in the washroom 

Taps: Washroom taps are available which contain aerators which can cut tap water consumption by up to 50%/

Urinals: Older style urinals can waste hundreds of litres of waters per hour. Modern technology means this outdated continual flow system is no longer necessary, with bathroom odours being dealt with in new ways and flushing kept to a minimum. 

Toilets: Update traditional toilets which can use up to 13 litres of water per flush and make them water efficient. Water saving solutions for businesses include options to create standard washroom flush systems into water saving opportunities with easily installed variable flush systems. 

Hand dryers: Replace traditional paper towels with energy efficient hand dryers that will save a substantial amount of energy, save costs and are less harmful to the environment. 

Don’t use the toilet as a bin: An easy fix with a little employee education. This bad habit means unnecessary flushes and wasted water which can easily be stopped. Throwing things down the toilet that don’t belong there can also lead to clogged pipes and equate to big, unavoidable plumbing costs. Make sure to provide disposal facilities for all types of waste inside your washroom including sanitary bins and nappy disposal bins

Saving water when cleaning 

Encourage employees to only use what they need and reduce water waste in cleaning practices. 

Saving water outside 

Where possible, consider installing water butts to collect rainwater. This can be used to water flowers and plants, and any other industry specific tasks which require water of this type. In industrial settings water recycling should be considered to find ways to reuse water used during the manufacturing process. For example, water may be recycled for use in washing, cooling, watering, and replenishing wetlands and waterways if it is of a suitable quality. 

 

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Commercial water saving devices and solutions 

A range of innovative and water efficient devices are available to help you save up to 90% of the water used by some standard commercial equipment. These devices should be part of a wider water management strategy to help your business save water. 

Water saving toilet flush 

Older style and malfunctioning toilets can use an inordinate amount of water and drive bills up fast. Citron Hygiene’s ActiFlush water saving system is an example of a water saving toilet flush device which can be quickly and easily fitted to traditional toilets to help conserve water. 

Urinal water saving devices 

The innovative Actiflow system has been used to create an eco-friendly, water saving device for use in washroom urinals. The Actiflow cartridge uses friendly bacteria to neutralise urinal odours and reduce the build-up of uric salts in pipes and waste systems. Actiflow can reduce water consumption by up to 90% against unmanaged cisterns. 

Water saving taps

Water saving taps are a great way to quickly reduce water waste from this piece of equipment by up to 50%. Aerated taps and flow adaptors can be fitted to ensure your kitchen and washroom taps are water efficient at all times, helping reduce waste and lower bills. 

Efficient hand dryers

Although not directly a water using device, employing eco-friendly, efficient hand dryers helps you save water indirectly by saving water used in the production of paper towels and the washing of cotton rolls for hand drying. 

Take sustainable steps & save water with Citron Hygiene 

If you would like to know more about reducing water waste and improving water efficiencies in your business, speak to Citron Hygiene today.  

Our water efficiency audit explains in detail where water could be saved, and checks efficiency of existing systems. We’ll make recommendations and show you exactly how much water and money we think you can save using our commercial water saving devices and expert knowledge.