Benchmarking Water Use In The Uk Food And Drink Sector: Case Study Of Three Water-Intensive Dairy Products

Ikenna Reginald Ajiero, David Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


There is an established body of research on water use by the domestic and agricultural sectors, but very little peer-reviewed literature have been published on industrial water use. This has been attributed to the commercially competitive and complex nature of the industrial sector, and the attendant difficulties in collecting requisite data for any analysis (Reynaud, 2002). Consequently there is a growing concern over the sustainability of water-related industrial practices and processes. To this end, focusing on key water intensive industrial subsectors, the food and drink sector which according to DEFRA (2007) and the Environment Agency (2013) has the highest rate of water use in the industrial sector, was chosen for this performance assessment; the aim being to clearly understand how various food and drink firms use water, relative to other “comparable” firms, and against industry standards or benchmarks. For the analyses, data on water use were collected from 53 Dairy companies, for a 5-year (min) period. Based on the findings, of the 53 benchmarked companies, 17 companies’ water use performance were ranked "Excellent"; 26 companies, "Average"; while the remaining 10 companies’ performance were "Poor". These results emphasize the need for creation of more comprehensive water management schemes and conservation clubs within the food and drink sector. From this study, benchmarking, a performance assessment and improvement process has been established as a veritable strategy for driving behavioural change in water use by industry, and enhancing the sustainability credential of the UK industrial sector, in terms of fresh water use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalWater Conservation Science and Engineering
Issue number1
Early online date25 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2018


  • water conservation
  • benchmarking
  • water-energy nexus
  • circular economy


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