Fonterra’s Upper South Island environmental manager Emily Macdonald and Upper South Island operations manager Chris Win at the Brightwater plant. Photo: Bruno Saia.

Nelson Fonterra site selected for bold water-saving target

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Fonterra’s Brightwater plant is part of a bold new target to save more than 3.4 billion litres of water every year.

The dairy cooperative has announced that six of its manufacturing sites in water-constrained regions will reduce their water use by 30 per cent by 2030 as part of its move to accelerate sustainability to the heart of its strategy.

Upper South Island operations manager Chris Win welcomes the challenge and says the whole team is on board with the initiative.

“To be honest, it’s pretty cool. We have to go to community meetings and be accountable for our site, but more than that, this is our community, we live here and our staff get asked tough questions when they’re out, so it’s great to be able to say ‘well here’s what we’re doing’.”

Fonterra says Brightwater has been chosen as one of six plants to participate because water is in high demand in the region.

Chris says the team learned a lot during the drought early in the year.

“It was a tough time for the area,z but when you get the right reason to do something it allows you to focus. The water constraints were felt by a lot of businesses and residents, so we are, I guess, further ahead in the thought process of how we are going to rise to this challenge.”

The site has already made a start with an upgraded metering system and several other new initiatives in the pipeline.

This includes using recycled water to wash tankers and making repairs on machinery that they didn’t realise wasn’t functioning as well as it could be.

Fonterra chief operating officer global operations Robert Spurway says taking a targeted approach to the six sites will ultimately result in better efficiency and outcomes.

“Water is a precious resource and we can’t take it for granted. For some parts of New Zealand, water isn’t always in the right place at the right time, and our water use in these regions can put stress on local water sources and the communities that rely on them.”

He says the target will require some clever ideas and creative thinking, but the site teams are already rising to the challenge.

“Reducing our water use at our manufacturing sites is the right thing to do for the environment and for the communities we operate in. That’s why we’ve set this new target, which will save billions of litres of water,” says Robert.

Brightwater is one of the six sites, alongside Maungaturoto, Lichfield, Darfield, Clandeboye and Edendale.