Construction is underway on an advanced plant that will reduce the amount of groundwater extracted for Fonterra’s Darfield, New Zealand, manufacturing site by around 70%.

The $11 million investment will have a significant impact on its environmental footprint.

“Thanks to the new plant, we’ll save the equivalent of around 100 tanker loads of water every day,” says Robert Spurway, head of global operations. “As well as reducing water use, the new technology also decreases the amount of water the site discharges for irrigation. It’s a win-win situation.”

The new plant uses a reverse osmosis technique to purify the water extracted from cow’s milk during the manufacturing process. Water is passed through a membrane filtration system, which makes it drinkable and suitable for use in a range of on-site activities such as cooling, heating and cleaning.

The Darfield development aligns with Fonterra’s six water commitments to help improve the quality of New Zealand’s waterways.

“We’re prioritizing investment to reduce water consumption. Last year, we announced our 2020 target to reduce the amount of water we use across our 26 New Zealand manufacturing sites by 20%,” adds Spurway. “The new plant will go a significant way toward helping us achieve our target, creating a manufacturing site that’s more self-sufficient.”

The new plant is expected to be operational by October, in time for the 2018-2019 milk season.