Red Stripe to share insight on developing Jamaica’s water economy


A report from Loop Jamaica.

Water, the ubiquitous resource that seems to keep on flowing. However, according to weather and climate change experts, there could be an end to the supply.

Although the earth consists of 70 per cent water, the type we use daily is freshwater and that makes up only three per cent. That amount is further reduced as two-thirds of it is frozen in glaciers or is otherwise inaccessible. With increased global demand for water resources over the last 50 years, water scarcity is becoming a more alarming threat.

Actively championing the cause of water efficiency through strategic planning and employee engagement in Jamaica is beer maker, Red Stripe.

On April 17, Red Stripe will bring together industry leaders at a Water Stewardship Knowledge Forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel. Under the theme ‘Every Drop: Water, sustainability and industry’, the event will focus on approaches to managing Jamaica’s water resources and ways in which stakeholders can contribute to developing the country’s water economy.

As part of the HEINEKEN Company, Red Stripe approaches conservation through water stewardship to manage the resource more sustainably thereby reducing the risks of water shortage.

For more than 20 years, the company has implemented several programmes to create awareness on the importance of water efficiency as well as to track water usage and wastage.

“Red Stripe invested in ten wells on our Spanish Town Road site to abstract brackish water in accordance with our license from the Water Resource Authority. All abstractions are monitored daily using sophisticated metering for reporting and control to ensure we only use what we need,” explained Neville Alexander, Red Stripe’s technical operations manager for engineering utilities.

Within the global framework it operates, Red Stripe is mandated to meet international standards for water usage in the production of its brewed products. The established target is divided among each department in the supply team and tracked on a daily basis.

“The team understands the importance of working towards the goal of ensuring Red Stripe meets the standards for brewing operations within HEINEKEN. Each department is held accountable for water usage which makes it easier to track trends and correct problems should they arise,” said Alexander.

By investing in two treatment plants – Reverse Osmosis and Nano-Filtration – the beer company is also able to process water to international standards for production. The company also invested in a wastewater treatment plant in 2007 to manage its waste streams and send back to the environment within the defined parameters of its NEPA operating license. According to Alexander, this was a significant part of the HEINEKEN global strategy to reduce the environmental footprint of every brewery.

For any business that wants to conserve water, Alexander suggests identifying how much water needs to be used through highly accurate measurement methods then sustainably managing its usage.

He also stressed the importance of implementing a robust system to manage and reduce water leaks, which often happens during the transmission of the supply. Red Stripe has found this approach to be crucial when preventing wastage in its ‘War on Waste’ maintenance programme which aims to identify and repair leaks.

Added to this list, Alexander asserts that companies should also address the issue of ‘phantom flushing’ which highlights faulty plumbing due to leaks in the toilet tank leading to automatic refilling. Personal responsibility among employees must also be encouraged so they can become more conscious about their water usage.

It’s a position fully supported by the National Water Commission. The company’s acting community relations officer Ann Bolt acknowledges that these are among simple measures companies can take to become more water efficient. “Simple steps such as reporting a dripping pipe, using recycled water to maintain lawns and installing water tanks can significantly contribute to improving water efficiency,” says Bolt. She also suggests using water saving devices such as low flush toilets and sensor taps.

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