Waterless washing machines? Would you use one?May 25th, 2011 by Simon Haddock
We all know how important it is to reduce our carbon footprint, but have you ever considered reducing your water footprint?
The south of England has had very little rain in the last couple of months and the threat of water restrictions has caused some smart companies to think of ways to reduce their usage.
Consultants McKinsey have predicted that by 2030 the world’s water requirement will be 6,900 billion m3 compared to the 4,500 billion m3 we need today. That’s a huge increase and will exceed our current reliable supplies by 40%.
The concept of water footprinting was first introduced in 2003 to calculate the average annual water consumption per head in a range of countries. Yemen had the smallest usage at 619m3 and the US the highest at 2,483m3.
Agriculture uses 85% of the water and industry 10% and this has led to some food manufacturers devising ways to reduce their water footprint. PepsiCo, the owners of Walker’s crisps, harvest more than 3,000 litres of clean water every hour by capturing the condensation from cooking the potatoes used to make crisps.
Whilst industry may be able to come up with solutions to cut their water footprint, it’s harder to change consumer behaviour. Xeros, a Leeds based company has designed a ‘waterless’ washing machine that uses nylon beads as cleansing agents, reducing water use by 90%. However the public, not surprisingly, struggle to accept that a domestic washing machine can operate without water.
Reducing water consumption is something we’re all going to have to accept eventually. We need water to make crops grow but commercial and domestic users can all do their bit.
What measures can we take, both at home and in our factories, to save more of this valuable resource?