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Freshly filled bottles travel down a conveyor belt on their way to packaging at Labatt London Brewery. (GEOFF ROBINS/Geoff Robins for The Globe and Mail)
Freshly filled bottles travel down a conveyor belt on their way to packaging at Labatt London Brewery. (GEOFF ROBINS/Geoff Robins for The Globe and Mail)

Green employers

Beer makers brew a smarter water policy Add to ...

Whether it's saving money, deferring infrastructure costs or simply making sure there's enough water to go around, companies and governments are going to be increasingly challenged to find innovative ways to conserve water in years to come. In some cases it will require new technology like the chillers WIKA installed. In others, it will be as simple as making it a priority to fix leaks or use a smaller spray nozzle.

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Conservation tidbits

Scoop shower

In 2006, global food giant General Mills set a goal of cutting its water use of about 2.3 cubic metres of water per ton of product by 5 per cent. Last year, they hit 2.1 cubic metres, a solid 9 per cent reduction from 2006.

Although the company does expect water use to increase in 2011, it does have a few water-saving tricks up its sleeve. One is the "scoop shower." Ice cream scoops at Hagen Dazs shops are kept in cups that have water continuously flowing over them, in order to prevent bacteria from building up. One cup could use 250,000 litres of water in a year, and each store has two or three.

The new scoop shower cup has a button that blasts water for five or six seconds to clean the scoop. The company set up the new scoop showers at 30 of its stores and saw tap water use go down by 75 per cent.

Rinsing lenses

Making eyeglass lenses doesn't use a huge volume of water, but after the plastic is cut and ground, the lenses have to be thoroughly cleaned. Then there are coatings, perhaps dozens of layers thick on high-quality lenses.

Essilor International is the world's largest manufacturer of eyeglass lenses. In 2006, it made water its environmental priority. One of the first changes was made at its factory in Dijon, France. It changed the way its cascade rinsing system works and cut water use by nearly two-thirds. It also began a company-wide analysis of water use, considering the feasibility of closed-loop systems. Essilor stated at the time that it wanted to do this before water scarcity became an issue. Last year the company used just under 2.4 million cubic metres of water, down from 2.8 million in 2006.

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