South Africa has been hard hit by a devastating drought coupled with repeated calls for water saving as dams run precariously close too empty. While businesses, under consumer pressure, must do all they can to reduce water consumption and take their environmental responsibilities seriously, reductions in energy consumption is just as important.
One Cape Town based business that has prioritised sustainability is Peninsula Beverage Company (PenBev). The local bottler and distributor of The Coca-Cola Company products in the Western and Northern Cape, which employs well over 1 300 people, has achieved significant results in reduced water and electricity consumption and a 97.3% recycling rate.
“Between 2004 and 2015, we halved our water use ratio and reduced the effluent use ratio at the Parow manufacturing plant by 68%. These water savings are the result of targeted adaptions to our processes that make production more sustainable,” says Johan Breytenbach, Safety Health Environment and Quality Manager.
PenBev now uses ionised air to ‘rinse’ PET plastic and recovers the water used in the filter backwash process and bottle rinsing. Other plant-wide measures such as foot operated hand wash basins, water saving nozzles on hoses and new crate washing technology have added to the significant reduction in water usage at PenBev. The company have not stopped to rest on their laurels, but have contracted water sustainability consultants to further advise on additional measures that can be taken to reduce water usage at the plant.
“In order to operate sustainably into the future we are constantly looking at how to refine our processes to be as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. We’re proud to have almost halved our energy usage at the plant since 2008,” says Dirk van Schalkwyk, Senior Process Engineer. Installation of solar panels (30 kilowatt-peak) on the roof and a reduction in pressure on the bottle blowing machine are two of the recent energy saving interventions at PenBev. Most pumps used to run the production line have been replaced with Variable Speed Drive (VSD) pumps, another reduction in electricity consumption at the plant. “The warehouse and production areas have energy saving lights that automatically switch the lights off if there is enough natural daylight,” explains van Schalkwyk. The next plan is to adjust cooling temperature on the bottling line for even more energy saving.
PenBev have also embarked on a cooler replacement programme at stores which stock their product. Fridge coolers are installed with an energy saving controller, LED tubes and energy efficient fan motors and compressors, representing an energy saving of up to 25%.
“We encourage all businesses, whether they are in production or not, to assess their water and electricity consumption by investing in sustainable processes. Besides the cost saving, we benefit from improved customer confidence in our product and the values we uphold as a business,” says Breytenbach.