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Water use in business

Bashir Kamulegeya, the Packaging Manager (Production) at Century Bottling Company, Mbarara branch told The Independent that world over, the Coca Cola business is driven on sustainability and the company puts a lot  of emphasis on both energy and water efficiency.

In fact, Kamulegeya said, the Mbarara Coca Cola company ranks first among the 40 plants in Africa when it comes to using water efficiently. For every litre of beverage produced, Kamulegeya says, the company uses 1.5 litres of water against the company’s target of 1.9 litres.

Kamulegeya told The Independent that following their partnership with the Uganda Cleaner Production Centre, the beverage company further improved its water use efficiency.

“We were already somewhere but UCPC pushed us a bigger mileage ahead,” he said,  “Our business is water oriented that we do 96% of our product using water; so water is our main KPI that we monitor daily, track it across every operation where we use it and we report on it daily.”

Before the training, Adongo said the enterprises had been losing over 14,000 cubic metres of water through leakages and poor practices like leaving taps running. Behaviour change under the project resulted in a drastic saving of over 29,000 cubic metres of fresh water.

The factories achieved this through plugging leakages, condensing vapour for reuse, using of pressure guns and press taps.

“Water measurement only stopped at the point of abstraction or the water metre installed by NWSC,” she said.  This wastage, she said, contributed to a large volume of wastewater.

But the trainers also did their own checks and evaluations, often involving impromptu visits to factories to check their level of commitment to water use efficiency. Adongo says this went on even after the project ended.

“We were surprised that 83% of the beneficiaries that participated in the project were still stuck on continuous improvement towards water efficiency because water use efficiency impacts on production,” she says.

The trainers found that water productivity had increased by 36% beating the target of 25% while the annual volume of fresh water saved from these 24 enterprises in three years amounted to 337,118 cubic metres translating into US$ 358,440 in savings.

Similar positive results were registered in wastewater reduction. Adongo said each of the participating enterprises had saved up to 32,803 cubic metres of wastewater from going into the environment.

Ministry of Water officials say that if the over 3000 enterprises across the country were to participate in the project, close to 42 million cubic metres of water would be saved which would translate into US$ 45 million in savings.

In terms of pollutants that were being discharged into the environment, all the 24 companies sent out 10.81 tonnes of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)—the amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic biological organisms to breakdown organic material in a given environment. When the project ended, only 3.14 tonnes was being discharged meaning that 7.67 tonnes was prevented from going into the environment. If the 3,000 companies joined the initiative, close to 960 cubic metres would be contained.

Adongo told The Independent that one of the lessons learnt is that most enterprises in Uganda are not aware of the interconnectedness of their businesses with water and the opportunities missed.

Sam Cheptoris, the Minister of Water and Environment said investing in efficient water use and pollution reduction mechanisms cannot only improve compliance to water and environmental regulations but also generates both economic and social gains to the enterprise.

He said pollution of water bodies reduces the availability of clean water; increases business risk and therefore must be seen as gross misuse of an essential but scarce resource.

“Strict compliance of water quality and environmental standards must therefore be observed and appropriate compliance policies on wastewater as a resource established. Let us remember water is not available unless it fits its intended use.

“This project has demonstrated that if we work together not only within the government but also in the private sector, we shall be able to benefit more but also impact more the environment.”

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