The Promise is upheld by our commitment to use water resources in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable way. This includes finding opportunities to introduce processes that support our environment pillar to promote water quality and conservation. One such opportunity involved our plant in White Bear Lake, Minnesota – home to our dedicated employees and now, a symbol of our water stewardship.
With the water level of White Bear Lake at a historical low, our team of engineers looked to implement a system that would reduce the plant’s water consumption and improve waste water quality, while still achieving the standards specified in the Non-Contact Cooling Water Permit (NCCW) of the state of Minnesota.
And so, between July 2017 and October 2017, ninety percent (90%) of our single pass system was replaced with a closed-loop cooling water tower system. Instead of drawing a significant amount of water from the local aquifer for one-time use, we are now able to reuse the water pumped through the closed circuit to cool the water required to protect our equipment from overheating.
Through this new system, our White Bear Lake plant will reduce water usage by approximately 52% (or 106 million gallons) per year – enough water to fill up roughly 160 Olympic-size swimming pools!
The initiative marks an integral shift in our plant’s operations that will help to not only maintain the water level of White Bear Lake, but also minimize costly treatment, disposal, and related maintenance costs for the organization. The success of the initiative has spurred other plants to take on similar projects, including our plant in Delhi, New York.
We are proud of the strides we are making in reducing our water consumption and will continue to evaluate our processes to ensure continuous improvement. This is just one example of how we continue to pursue growth as a world-class dairy processor, while striving to minimize the environmental impacts of our activities.
Our commitment to being environmentally responsible drives us to constantly evaluate our business operations, and take measures to improve our processing practices. One such opportunity arose in 2018, when we undertook a project to install an alternative to chemical solutions for neutralizing wastewater at our Dairy Division (Canada) plant in Plessisville, Québec.
Industrial (or effluent) wastewater is generated during cheese production and must be neutralized by adjusting its pH level prior to being released to the local sewage system. While common and effective, the use of acidic or alkaline chemicals to do so can cause environmental, health, and safety hazards.
In our effort to minimize these effects, this new water treatment system directly injects CO2 into the wastewater to reduce pH levels. The new system, provides more consistent results and minimizes the need for additional treatments. It also reduces the risks, accidents and unnecessary costs associated with spills and on-site maintenance.The success of this project has inspired us to consider rolling out similar systems in other Saputo facilities.
We recognize the importance of minimizing the environmental impacts of our activities, and the new CO2 system at our Plessisville plant is one example of this continued commitment to adopt responsible environmental practices.