French pig processor Abera began a water conservation campaign two years ago that has succeeded in reducing the company's consumption by 30%.
According to the company, water use for the first three months of 2011 came to 15,000 cubic meters (15 million liters), compared to 21,300 cubic meters during the same time in 2008. This has resulted in a 30% reduction in usage per pig slaughtered, down to 210 liters from an average of almost 300 liters two years ago. The total savings, said Abera, equates roughly to the amount consumed annually by households in a town of 2,000 residents.
Abera general manager Michel Gaumerais and a team of seven people from the plant launched the campaign, which began by measuring the consumption at each step of the process from lairage to final product. This soon revealed opportunities for reducing the volume, such as at the primary offal removal and carcass washing stages. Wash-down water was recycled for an initial rinse-off of soiling from the vehicles used to transport pigs to the plant, and a method of offal removal using less water was developed. Moreover, each water point in the abattoir was equipped with a new valve offering better management of pressure and flow rate.
The company was also able to renegotiate the contract with its water utility supplier. Overall, Abera estimates that it has managed to save €60,000 per year since the improvements were implemented.