Efficient water management is imperative for chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical companies, report claims.

Managing water more efficiently with innovative technology and better business processes is becoming imperative for chemical, pharmaceutical and petrochemical companies, a report claims.

Only about one-third of the boards of 108 companies surveyed from these and other sectors - including brewing and food manufacture, agriculture, and paper and pulp - have discussed their water strategy within the past 12 months, according to the report commissioned by the International Water and Effluent Exhibition (Iwex).

The average chemical or pharmaceutical company spends four per cent of its annual turnover on wastewater and effluent management on top of the cost of water usage (about one per cent of turnover in this sector). This sector is second only to brewing and food manufacture, which on average spends 4.25 per cent of its turnover on managing wastewater (just over 3.5 per cent of turnover on water usage). 

Water management ’can have a fundamental effect on a business’ profitability, environmental performance, end product quality, plant longevity and brand reputation,’ said Richard Hease, chairman of Turret-RAI who will organise this year’s Iwex Exhibition in October. ’The major commercial water users account for well over 20 per cent of the UKeconomy - it’s therefore a big issue for UK plc.’

Nevertheless, the surveyed companies’ predictions for how their spend will change in the coming year highlighted - for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries in particular - the importance in lowering this cost. Twenty-four per cent of brewing and food manufacturing companies estimate their spend will increase compared with 17 per cent that predict it will decrease. This compares with 18 per cent of chemical and pharmaceutical companies that estimate their spend will increase, and none that think it will go down. Within these sectors, larger companies envisage spending more in the next 12 months than their smaller rivals, according to the report.

Some companies are taking a proactive strategy. One third of companies report working with water management consultants and specialist companies. Fiona Salvage