SHANGHAI, April 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As the home to 60 percent of the world’s population, the Asia-Pacific has been deemed "the global hot spot for water insecurity," in a water development report released by Asian Development Bank.
In APAC, over 2 billion people have poor or limited accessibility to fresh water, and the number could surge to 5 billion in 2050 (UN, 2018). This outcome is likely due to the region’s skyrocketing growth in population, economy, modernization, agriculture and urbanization. And it also happens to be one of the most disaster-prone regions globally, vulnerable to floods and droughts.
"The significance of water sustainability cannot be overstated, considering the significant consequences of water insecurity in our region," said CY Shong, senior vice president, Continuous Improvement, Electrical Sector, Eaton. "Each one of us has the responsibility to make a difference, for our planet and for generations to come."
Foster accessible, safe and sustainable water via water management
The concept of "water security" is not limited to the quality of water. Rather, it is defined as "the availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks to people, environments and economies". And to attain acceptable quantity and quality of water in our region, we need to better leverage the basic 3R strategies – also known as reduce, reuse and recycle.
Reduce is simple: Decrease our water consumption. Industrial processes consume the second largest amount of water, worldwide, just behind agriculture. And the key to ensuring water efficiency in industrial processes is to identity improvement opportunities, such as areas of water leakage or inefficient ways of processing water and taking proactive and effective actions to tackle the issues.
Approaches of water management can be quite cost-effective. For instance, our Eaton Power Quality plant in the Philippines has managed to steadily decrease its monthly water consumption to an average of 2,646 cubic meters in 2020, a reduction of 32 percent compared to 2019. The measures they are taking at this facility are simple but effective:
- The team has reduced the flow rate of water discharge by adjusting water valves and reducing water pressure.
- They installed water meters at areas with high water consumption and monitor water consumption twice a day to identify abnormalities and implement real-time corrective actions to prevent water waste
Another example is at our ELX plant in Dongguan, China, where the team introduced an automatic washing machine into its production line. This replaced manual washing and is expected to reduce wastewater by 0.5 cubic meters, which will amount to more than 180 cubic meters per year.
Considering the scarcity of freshwater resources, the approach of water conservation alone cannot stop the problem. That’s why it’s also critical to leverage the other Rs – reuse and recycle.
At our ELX plant, in addition to introducing automated washing machines, the team also took steps to reuse and recycle wastewater. They introduced a new wastewater filtration system for its supercapacitors, which can reduce around 2.5 cubic meters of wastewater every day, which amounts to more than 900 cubic meters annually. In addition, the facility made improvements to its existing wastewater filtration system for fuse substrate cutting, which was experiencing blockages due to limited space. The newly designed system now reduces wastewater by one cubic meter per day.
Similarly, at our plants in Shenzhen, China, the teams have also managed to identify improvement opportunities in their processes that not only recycle wastewater, but also save costs. Both plants have introduced a new filtration system to process the oily wastewater generated by air compressors. With this process, the filtered water is channeled to the plant’s cooling towers or spray towers and reused. The introduction of this filtration system is expected to save around $21,277 per year in total at these two plants.
"These actions aren’t overly complicated or difficult to execute but their cumulative effects could be extraordinary in long run," said CY. "At Eaton, the concept of ‘Continuous Improvement’ is embedded in our culture and business operations. From our shop-floor employees to leadership teams, we continue to seek opportunities to identify, and eventually overcome, inefficiencies in our process, to constantly bring value to our customers, employees, communities and the planet we all share."
On our way to achieving 2030 Sustainability Goals
These efforts are not one-offs. Solutions like these are being implemented across the enterprise as part of a collective effort to reach our 2030 sustainability targets. These targets include waste, emissions and water reductions along with other social and governance goals. From 2018 to 2020, the APAC region reduced its water consumption by 180,092 cubic meters, reaching a decrease of 15 percent in merely two years. This is the result of the collective efforts of every APAC site, plants and offices alike, and showcases our determination and passion in driving water sustainability.
In all, considering the significant impact water has to our planet and society, it is imperative that individuals and organizations put water security and sustainability at the heart of what they do.