Exclusive interview with David Putterill, plant manager of Quality Beverages in Cape Town, one of the technical water project site visits this year during African Utility Week.
During a site visit this year, delegates will see the bottling plant and the water saving projects that were implemented that helped the company reduce their waste water by over 60%, saving over 50 million litres of municipal water since January 2017.
“Saving over R1-million and over 50 million litres of water in the past 13 months, especially in the drought situation, has been fantastic.”
Let’s start with some background on Quality Beverages and the different procedures that are taking place at the plant.
Quality Beverages bottles Cape Town’s favourite carbonated soft drinks including the range of flavours in Jive, Pepsi and ZIP. We produce over 1 million bottles per week, mostly 2 litre Jive. We use on average 30,000 litres per hour of water! Our processes include, making the cool drink, blowing, filling and then labeling the bottle, packaging it and putting it onto a pallet ready for shipment to customers.
How has the water shortage in Cape Town affected your activities?
We are fortunate that it has had little negative impact although this is partially due to the various actions we took in advance of the crisis. We did start in mid-2016 with various projects to save water and these are on-going including sinking our own boreholes so we can reduce our dependence on municipal supply.
Tell us about the measures that you took?
One of the key aspects was changing the culture of the staff, getting them to think about ways of saving water in everything they do. This triggered opportunities where we captured and then reused certain water to avoid it going to waste. We also set up various measures to track our performance and gave regular feedback to the team so they were kept motivated by the reduction in waste.
How important was getting the staff on board?
It was essential. For any changes to be sustainable and genuine it needs buy-in from the whole team and so getting the staff on board has been key to getting the success we have had.
What surprised you about this whole experience?
It has been fascinating to see what can be achieved when a team applies their mind to a particular goal. Saving over R1 million and over 50 million litres of water in the past 13 months, especially in the drought situation has been fantastic. It has also been a huge learning curve for all concerned, learning about water treatment, alternative water sources, geohydrology and many other topics.
Exciting plans for the future?
We are still finishing off our boreholes and reverse osmosis plant which we are expecting to come on line during June 2018. Along our journey we have observed many other opportunities for savings and improvements so we will have our hands full with all these new projects.
What will the African Utility Week visitors to the plant see and what will they learn from the experience?
Delegates will see the bottling plant and the water saving projects that were implemented that helped us reduce our waste water by over 60%, saving over 50 million litres of municipal water since January 2017. They will also see our alternative water supply project that we have initiated to reduce our dependence on the municipal water supply by installing our own boreholes and reverse osmosis plant.
Anything you would like to add?
Making a difference in life is very satisfying and we have been fortunate to have been able to make a difference in saving a lot of water in the current crisis.
We have also had the spin-off the associated cost savings, the learning curve the staff have been on and other spin-offs.
For example, due to water being saved and therefore less being sent down the drains, this increased the concentration of the waste being sent into the council effluent system.
As a spin-off we then addressed this by working with Green Cape in identifying farmers who could use our cool drink waste by-products and so reducing the waste going to effluent.