The industrial call for resource cooperation
Increasingly there are industrial sites around the world that have had to deal with acute water shortages. ‘Without water, industry doesn’t survive, it doesn’t thrive, and it cannot make the goods and services required to keep the global economy running,’ says Snehal Desai, Project Director – Sustainable Business Blueprints & Strategies, The Dow Chemical Company. ‘So we see that in cases where there is a more acute need, people are rapidly adopting new and different approaches.’
Like other sectors, industry in general also faces longer-term concerns around water. ‘Fundamentally, the long-term challenge here is how does industry, along with agriculture and with communities, for example, actually manage the water resources that we have more sustainably,’ adds Desai, who will be giving a keynote presentation during next week’s Amsterdam International Water Week.
Desai sees that industry is in a position to show leadership in responding to this challenge. He believes there has already been good progress in this respect over the last 10-20 years in terms of industry using water more efficiently and sharing best practices on how to do this. ‘We have seen a lot of great strides in that area, with companies reducing the water intensity of their operations,’ he says.
Industry has taken this further with the rise of water reuse. ‘That emerging trend around reuse has really been led primarily by the industrial sector,’ says Desai. ‘The amount of water reuse going on in the industrial sector has grown quite dramatically, and will continue to grow.’
To date, many of the efforts around reuse have been ‘within the fence’ of individual industrial sites. Desai’s message is that there is a need to look more broadly at the opportunities in a wider catchment. His company is involved in a growing number of examples doing just this.
The wider opportunities in a catchment might include an industrial site reusing the water from a municipal wastewater treatment plant. ‘All watersheds are different,’ notes Desai. The solution should therefore be shaped by the wider circumstances in the watershed. ‘We are encouraging that kind of thinking,’ he adds.
Desai says that initiatives such as the EU-supported Demoware project, in which Dow’s chemical facility in Tarragona, Spain participated, mean progress is being made on aspects such as how best to engage stakeholders of reuse projects or how to evaluate reuse within water resources options.
The stakeholder aspect is key, given the interests and concerns of different parties, such as policy makers, regulators and municipalities. ‘Projects require all of those stakeholders to get on the same page,’ says Desai, adding: ‘It starts with conversation at the front end, ensuring that you have got all the voices heard.’
Desai is looking forward to AIWW and the opportunity to ‘share the story and share the vision,’ he says, and he is hoping in particular to connect with others looking to make progress in this area. ‘This is about collective action. If there are other companies thinking in this way, it is about reaching out and asking how we can work together to bring this vision into being,’ concludes Desai.
Dow Water & Process Solutions, global leader in sustainable water separation and purification technologies and a global business unit of DowDuPont Specialty Products, will be featuring this year’s Aquatech Amsterdam (October 31 - November 3) as Principal Sponsor. The company will be presenting and demonstrating its latest advanced products and solutions range, as well as hosting “Dow Talks” with industry experts at its stand. “Following the success of our role as Principal Sponsor at the 2015 edition, we are very much looking forward to collaborating with our partners at Aquatech again and demonstrate our continued commitment to one of the world’s most critical industries – water,” said Alexander Lane, EMEAI Commercial Director. “Our aim is to drive awareness around the most important water challenges of today across both residential and industrial water sectors, while demonstrating through real examples the wide offering of our technologies as part of integrated solutions.”