This World Water Day, Kavita Kalicharran, Group Environmental Sustainability Manager, at Tiger Brands reflects on the complex value that water plays in our everyday lives and how we can better manage this irreplaceable natural resource.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is about ensuring clean water and sanitation for all. SDG 6 further outlines why business action on water matters by providing explicit targets to be achieved. Water is integral to life – within our households and work environment, in maintaining our health, and as part of our food, culture and beliefs. Most importantly, water sustains our natural environment. Yet, we so easily take water supply for granted.
The value of water is about much more than its price, as such we must consider its long-term sustainability so that we never have to face water insecurity. The 2018 - 2019 drought made this threat real, especially affecting some of our operations and farmers that supply us with fresh commodities. Despite the abundance of rain we’ve had this season, climate change is gradually changing the location of the large-scale climate systems which Influences the rainfall totals, thus making the future unpredictable. Tiger Brands is cognisant of this risk and continues to explore positions where it can use this information, on rainfall patterns, to inform effective adaptation and our activities that are dependent on rainfall seasonality.
As the country’s largest food manufacturer, 95% of our manufacturing facilities are certified against the ISO 14 001: 2015 global standard for environmental management. We live up to the mantra that "what gets measured, gets managed" as such, we are tracking, monitoring and reporting on our water withdrawals, discharge and consumption. We use a combination of municipal, borehole and harvested rainwater for our manufacturing processes and operational use. Our operations continuously monitor and manage discharged water to assure compliance with the municipal by-laws and to further ensure that we are not negatively impacting the environment and surrounding communities. In the operations where we treat our water to a reusable level, we redirect this treated water for activities such as watering gardens, flushing toilets, to clean delivery trucks and our grounds.
Each of our 38 manufacturing facilities has an on-site team of risk manager, plant manager and engineering personnel who oversee the environmental sustainability and safety strategic thrusts of each plant. They identify water saving initiatives in line with water use efficiency, reduction in water consumption and flow into the effluent stream. Some of initiatives undertaken to date include - integration of water availability and quality into our risk assessments [as this results in business interruptions]; exploration of circular economy techniques and discharging waste-water for other organisations use; implementation of water efficient pump systems; implementing water-saving and recycling strategies such as installing low-flow units; equipping our green house in King Food with automatic sprinklers; in the Beverages facility we recover our first rinse water in the filling process to reuse at the third stage final rinse once the product is filled and capped; recycling extruder water from cooling towers; recovering plus reusing the clean-in-place final rinse water in other operational activities.
In line with our Group Sustainability strategy, capability building is critical in our environmental strategy execution. We partner with industry experts when undertaking facility assessments in order to identify and define water saving opportunities. We regularly engage and conduct benchmarking activities, with our suppliers during environmental awareness campaigns because as a responsible corporate citizen, Tiger Brands is committed to being forward-looking in terms of resource management.