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Water, water everywhere … or is there?

A new report from Meiko UK urges caterers and foodservice operators across all sectors to stop pouring money down the drain when it comes to their use of water.


Meiko UK commissioned Footprint Intelligence to conduct research on water usage and conservation in foodservice kitchens. The resulting report, ‘Why care about water?’ is a guide to responsible water use in foodservice. 


So why should we be concerned about our water usage? In the UK we may feel that we won’t have a problem – the British climate is well known for supplying plenty of rain … isn’t it? Apparently not. The UK has less rainfall per person than Northern Europe and London is drier than Istanbul. The UK’s water system is over-stretched and water scarcity is a reality that, unless action is taken, will only get worse. 


The Environment Agency reports that people in England will face shortages by 2050 unless we start using water more wisely. The United Nations predicts that global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030 due to climate change, human action and population growth. 


Managing Director of Meiko UK, Paul Anderson, says: “There will be shortages unless we start using water more wisely, so don’t you think we need to agitate, to shake things up and get right up people’s noses, to make sustainability the status quo?”


69% of the UK’s water footprint is related to food production, according to the WWF, an international NGS focused on sustainability and conservation, so the kitchen is a great place to start. 


For hospital Trusts, water is a cost over which they have no control and some regional water boards charge more than others. However, every Trust can do more to improve their use of water.


Water use is often overlooked when considering the efficiency of the kitchen operation, where the energy use of equipment, levels of food waste and sustainable/local/ethical sourcing are already well-established themes. 


However, water mismanagement is not only bad for the environment, it can have a significant negative financial impact across the foodservice/catering operation. For instance, inefficient use, improperly maintained equipment, poor staff practices, sewer blockages and leakages can all cost significant sums of money, as well as contributing to potential future water scarcity.


“This report clearly makes us aware of the need for the foodservice industry to change and shows some small steps that we can all take to make a difference. If it gives you motivation and in turn stimulates your team, then that is a great first step.”


The Meiko report focuses on the foodservice sector and includes an eight-point Operator Action Plan to help sites to measure and monitor water usage, identify and target problem areas along with suggestions to introduce improvements and build resilience.


Download the full report here.