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More than 50 companies from the chemical and life sciences have participated in a one-year project to find out how they can save and reuse even more water. With this ‘Learning Network Water’, the sector federation essenscia wants to provide intensive guidance for Flanders companies and help them to map out their savings potential through action plans and water audits and further reduce water consumption. By the end of 2021, based on these results, the sector wants to come up with a concrete commitment to water saving. The voluntary initiative is thus in line with the objectives of the recently announced Blue Deal, with which the government of Flanders is fully committed to circular water use. 

Companies in the chemical and life sciences sector reduced the specific consumption of drinking water and groundwater per production volume by no less than 47% between 2009 and 2019. The sector therefore produces more with less water. These are good results, but due to the increasing drought problem, the sector – an important industrial water user with an annual consumption of 851million m³ – wants to save even more water. 

That is why the sector federation essenscia vlaanderen has started a ‘Learning Network Water’. Under the supervision of engineering firm Sweco, companies will draw up action plans for water conservation and circular water use. Participating companies have also carried out a water audit that maps out the savings potential in the short and long term and they can learn from the best practices of industry peers. This should lead to a concrete sector commitment with targets for water saving by the end of 2021. 

Cooling water and raw material 

In chemistry and life sciences, almost 90% of water use is surface water, for example from rivers. This is mainly used as cooling water to guarantee the safety of industrial processes. Afterwards, this unpolluted cooling water is discharged back into the surface water source. So this water is not lost. Barely 6% of sectoral water use is drinking water. Water also serves as a raw material in the sector, for example for medicines, paints, disinfectants, cleaning agents or cosmetics.