Fonterra investing to reduce water use at Darfield plant

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Fonterra’s Darfield manufacturing site, on New Zealand's South Island.
Fonterra’s Darfield manufacturing site, on New Zealand's South Island.
Construction is under way on a plant that will reduce the amount of groundwater extracted for Fonterra’s Darfield manufacturing site by around 70%.

Fonterra said the NZ$11m (US$8.1m) investment in water processing technology will have a significant impact on its environmental footprint.

“Thanks to the new plant we’ll save the equivalent of around 100 tanker loads of water every day,”​ Robert Spurway, head of Fonterra’s global operations, said.

“As well as reducing water use, the new technology also decreases the amount of water the site discharges for irrigation. It’s a win-win situation.”

Water commitments

The new plant uses a reverse osmosis technique to purify the water extracted from cow’s milk during the manufacturing process.

Water is passed through a membrane filtration system which makes it drinkable and suitable for use in a range of onsite activities such as cooling, heating and cleaning.

The Darfield development aligns with Fonterra’s six water commitments to help improve the quality of New Zealand’s waterways.

 Fonterra’s six water commitments:

1.            Farm within regional environmental limits.
2.            Encourage strong environmental farming practices.
3.            Reduce water use and improve wastewater quality at manufacturing plants.
4.            Build partnerships to improve waterway health.
5.            Invest in science and innovation to find new solutions.
6.            Make the products people value most.

“We’re prioritizing investment to reduce water consumption. Last year we announced our 2020 target to reduce the amount of water we use across our 26 New Zealand manufacturing sites by 20%,” ​Spurway said.

“The new plant will go a significant way towards helping us achieve our target, creating a manufacturing site that’s more self-sufficient.”

The new plant is expected to be up and running by October 2018.

Related topics Manufacturers Fonterra Sustainability

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