Novus Holdings, South Africa’s leading commercial printing and manufacturing company based in Cape Town, has taken action to reduce its reliance on municipal water, having spent in excess of R1.7 million on various water-saving initiatives at its Paarl Media Cape division since early 2017. Businesses across the drought-stricken Western Cape have recently been urged by the City of Cape Town to reduce water usage by at least 20 per cent in a bid to curb excessive consumption.
‘Water is essential to our printing operation. The need for water security, in addition to every business having to play its part in water conservation, prompted us to revisit how we use the resource. We implemented a robust water saving plan in June 2017 and since then, we have managed to reduce our water consumption by up to 80 per cent on certain processes,’ says Kelvin Pillay, managing director of Paarl Media Cape.
The City of Cape Town has made a number of recommendations to businesses in the Western Cape on how to reduce water consumption. These include: conducting regular audits to understand and reduce water footprint; setting water efficiency targets with buy-in and commitment from all stakeholders; preparing for possible outages and limited supply by putting in place long-term plans that take into account alternative water sources.
‘Paarl Media Cape has embraced the spirit of these recommendations. We have installed a new water reservoir in the plant that will allow production to continue for a maximum of 62 hours without using an external water source. We are also installing three 20 kilolitre water tanks that will be plumbed directly into the building’s water lines,’ explains Pillay.
He adds that ablution facilities have been fitted with water-saving devices and plumbing has been amended to optimise the use thereof. Other water-saving measures at Paarl Media Cape include a unique filtration system at its two biggest presses, a saving of up to 7000 litres each month through recycling; the use of condensation, or steam to the Lurgi solvent-recovery plant, which can save up to 1200 kilolitres each month, and; the installation of a system that monitors where water is used most intensely and where it could be re-used.
Pillay says that while print is a water-intensive process, Paarl Media Cape is continually looking at innovative measures to reduce its consumption.
‘At our Lurgi Plant, for example, we completed a water-optimisation project in July 2017, resulting in a total water saving of at least 27 per cent compared to the previous year.’
He explains that a high volume of water was used at the site for various purposes including the recovery of toluene, a solvent necessary in the printing process. The water-saving initiative’s objective was to feed any water that goes to effluent in a separator, via a 5000 litre wastewater capture tank, into the cooling towers.
In addition to water-saving at Paarl Media Cape, at Group level, Novus Holdings has commenced with various initiatives in this vein, including water awareness sessions for all Safety, Health, Environment, Risk and Quality (SHERQ) officers. Water tracking systems have been implemented throughout the business, with analysis and measurement of water usage happening on a quarterly basis.
‘We recognise the impact of the printing process on natural resources and take our role as environmentally responsible business seriously. We have invested in various systems to reduce, re-use and recycle, while delivering superior products,’ concludes Pillay.