Fonterra, New Zealand, developed an innovative way to reuse water from condensation that’s produced during the milk powder manufacturing process at its Pahiatua plant, what is dubbed as the world’s first earthquake-proof whole milk drying plant.

“Pahiatua is already Fonterra New Zealand’s most water efficient site, and some clever thinking has taken it to the next level,” says Robert Spurway, chief operating officer, global operations. “As an organization, we’ve committed to a 20% reduction in water use by 2020. Pahiatua is well ahead of the game.”

The P3 milk powder plant was already 100% self-sufficient for water, meaning it does not use any groundwater in the manufacturing process. However, the evaporators often produced more water than was required, and the excess was typically irrigated onto surrounding farmland.

Now, rather than irrigate the excess water, the new reclaimed water system treats the excess water via reverse osmosis and chlorination before combining it with the site’s main water supply for general use.

“After seeing an opportunity to innovate, the team completed the project in an extremely cost-effective manner,” adds Glenn Broughton, site operations manager.