Aqualution Systems Ltd

VIBES Award: Finalist Best of VIBES

Highlights:

  • The company has introduced a new produce washing system into the M&S supply chain that has reduced the water consumption for the process by 80%, typically from 500,000 litres of water a week to 100,000 litres of water a week.
  • The produce washing system has also reduced chemical consumption by 80%, and electricity consumption by 85%.
  • This has reduced the processors operating costs by around £250,000 a year, with the system usually paying for itself in about a year.

Aqualution Systems is a micro-company with seven staff based in Duns in the Scottish Borders, where they manufacture all of their own products.

The business is based around the production of a safe, environmentally friendly biocide used in many sectors including healthcare, agriculture, food and drink processing and pharmaceuticals to stop harmful micro-organisms including Norovirus, E-coli, MRSA, influenza and C-difficile.

Aqualution’s customers include companies in the Marks & Spencer’s supply chain, who use the company’s technology for decontaminating ready to eat foods such as fruit, salads and vegetables. The technology was initially developed to support Marks and Spencer’s ‘Plan A’ sustainability strategy, which includes targets to reduce emissions by 80% and turn the company into a zero-waste business.

Other customers range from NHS hospitals to fruit processing plants in Serbia and dairy or poultry farms in Yorkshire.

The company is committed to reducing its own and its customers’ environmental impact – with their technology to reduce the use of chemicals, water and electricity in the processing and packing of fruit, vegetables and salads being a prime example.

 

VIBES credentials

Aqualution won the Hydro Nation Water Innovation category, sponsored by the Scottish Government, in the 2018 VIBES awards for this technology which delivers improved produce decontamination while also enabling the water used in the washing to be recycled.

On winning the 2018 VIBES Hydro Nation Water Innovation award, Aqualution Systems Chief Executive Nick Meakin said:

"Collecting a VIBES Award is a real testament to the hard work and commitment from everyone in the small team at Aqualution and demonstrates that even very small companies can make a difference in environmental management and impact and be recognised for doing so.

“We are proud to take our place amongst many excellent companies developing technologies to support efficient water management in food production in Africa and the wider world. Hearing about the diversity of the applications that all the finalists had developed was very inspiring and demonstrated the many ways to improve activities and operations while benefitting the environment both at home and abroad.

“The wide range of the size of the companies present also showed that any business can commit to best practice and make a difference."

 

Environmental and business benefits of the technology 

  • The company has introduced a new produce washing system into the M&S supply chain that has reduced the water consumption for the process by 80%, typically from 500,000 litres of water a week to 100,000 litres of water a week.
  • This system converts what was a batch process into a continuous one facilitating significant productivity benefits.
  • The produce washing system has also reduced chemical consumption by 80%, and electricity consumption by 85%.
  • This has reduced the processors operating costs by around £250,000 a year, with the system usually paying for itself in about a year.
  • Aqualution is quoting for six new systems, two for Ghana, two for the UK, one in Benin, Africa and one for Kenya. This will double projected revenues over the next 12 months to £2m, with the company projecting growth to £5m in 3 years.

 

Wider benefits 

  • Aqualution’s system delivers an improved decontamination of the product, reducing the risk of food poisoning and potentially increasing shelf life – leading to reduced food waste.
  • Eliminating sodium hypochlorite – a chemical compound use for water purification – from the washing flumes also reduces the risk of by-products from chlorine disinfection.
  • With the old technology, these were frequently found at levels in excess of the maximum residue limit. The new system now consistently delivers within acceptable limits.
  • There are spin-off health benefits for employees. The lower concentration of free chlorine has eliminated a strong “bleach” smell in the old process.
  • Workers can be sensitised to this, making it uncomfortable for them to work in that environment. One request to install a system in Ghana has been driven by the employees who found out from their colleagues in Egypt that our technology resolved this issue – and demanded the company quickly implement the system in the Ghanaian factory.

 

Practising what they Preach

  • Despite being a small company, Aqualution operates an accredited ISO 14000 environmental management system in its factory.
  • Waste biocidal product generated during product testing is collected and reused for toilet flushing
  • This is the only significant “waste” water generated in the business.
  • Most of the parts in the technology used to generate the disinfectant can be repaired, recycled and reused in the equipment when they wear out.

 

Website: www.aqualution.co.uk

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