Sustainable hygiene is much more than saving water

Water is essential for life, the environment and the economy, and as such it is a common good that must not only be accessible and affordable for all, but more importantly, respected and protected. Due to climate change, water scarcity is increasing worldwide and also in Europe, where water stress affects about 20% of the territory and 30% of the population, according to the report “Water resources across Europe confronting water stress: an updated assessment by the European Environment Agency, 2021”. Europe’s water resources are threatened by the new climate order, with many river basins, such as the Mediterranean, experiencing reduced overall precipitation and longer periods of drought. There is a growing imbalance between the availability of the local resource and the demand for water from industry, which means that there is a significant risk of water scarcity in the future.

Water shortages in the food industry can have a significant impact on operations and the supply chain. Water is a critical resource, used in manufacturing, cooling, cleaning and other processes. When water is scarce, companies can face a number of challenges including reduced production, food safety risks if they do not have access to sufficient water to ensure adequate hygiene standards, corporate reputation and environmental impact.

But sustainability goes further than that. It is not just about saving water. It is about developing a global strategy where business, environment and society go hand in hand. Sustainability is everyone’s business and it is essential that industry workers are trained in sustainable hygiene practices and are aware of the importance of their role in reducing the environmental impact of hygiene operations. This can include training programmes on the correct use of cleaning products and equipment, as well as promoting a culture of environmental responsibility in the workplace.

Reducing water use, a challenge for all industries

To address the challenge of water use, many companies are implementing water optimisation plans, by investing in water treatment and reuse technologies and by developing more sustainable water management strategies in their cleaning and disinfection operations. In addition, working with local communities and government authorities to manage water use responsibly can be critical to ensuring an adequate supply of this vital resource.

This is why we talk about implementing sustainable hygiene practices that go beyond industrial water use. Actions that reduce environmental impact and promote food safety. In this sense, reducing energy consumption for cleaning and disinfection, maintaining safety standards and using more environmentally friendly products are all important.

One of the most important options is the implementation of water reclamation systems in accordance with the sustainable cycle. This type of initiatives, such as the Hydro system offered by Christeyns, can lead to significant water savings of up to 70%. At the same time, the installation of monitoring systems for cleaning operations, both CIP and OPC, allows total control of consumption as well as better quality control of cleaning operations, resulting in significant reductions not only in water, but also in energy, time and cleaning and disinfectant products.

Another option that can be considered to contribute to the sustainability of hygiene processes is the automation of cleaning and disinfection tasks on conveyor belts in the food industry, or the use of cavitation/ultrasonic hygiene equipment, as well as the use of perfectly optimised crate washers. All this saves water, energy, time and product consumption, and ensures consistently high levels of hygiene.

The use of more environmentally friendly cleaning and disinfection products is another tool that can be used to make the industry more sustainable. Products that require less water for rinsing or more neutral, less aggressive products such as enzymatic products. Products that can be used at room temperature, thus reducing energy consumption.

Finally, other measures applicable to the sanitising process itself can also contribute to the goal of sustainable sanitation. These measures can include the adjustment of nozzles and equipment used for product application to optimise energy use in the cleaning process. Modifications to the cleaning protocol can also be introduced, such as the use of specific products in the initial rinse phase to allow for more efficient, time and water saving subsequent cleaning in the overall cleaning process.

It is therefore necessary to review the sanitisation processes properly in order to implement hygiene protocols and products in specific processes, always depending on the microbiological risk, that allow the reduction of cleaning and disinfection stages, both on open surfaces and in circuits.

Christeyns Green, the colour of a commited company

Christeyns Green, the colour of a commited company

As a socially responsible detergent supplier, also Christeyns strives every day to ensure that its sustainability plans go beyond theory. “Christeyns Green. The colour of a committed company” is the campaign through which the company wants to demonstrate its commitment to society and its immediate environment. A commitment that grows day by day. The goal of producing with a rational use of water, the use of recycled plastics or self-sufficiency in energy consumption is part of its daily work. A roadmap that is also internalised by the Christeyns employees themselves, who strive every day to be more respectful of the environment in their own workplace. Christeyns recognizes that to provide a sustainable service, it must lead by example and implement sustainable practices within its own facilities. This commitment to sustainability has been acknowledged through various awards, including the prestigious Ecovadis Gold Award, most recently.

In order to be the green company it wants to be, Christeyns is immersed in plans to improve its sustainability and that of its immediate neighbours. Thus, in addition to the installation of renewable energy for its own use in various production plants, there is also the circular neighbourhood project in Ghent, Belgium. In this project, excess heat of the Christeyns factory is used to create warm homes in a new neighboring residential area, while the waste water of these apartments is collected, filtered and used for the production of detergents & cleaning products.

In conclusion, the implementation of sustainable hygiene practices in the industry is essential to reduce environmental impact while maintaining food safety. Using environmentally friendly products and processes, optimising water consumption in cleaning and disinfection tasks, implementing water recirculation systems and using cold cleaning methods can help to reduce water and energy consumption.


Joan Estornell

Graduate in Information Sciences. Master's Degree in Advertising Account Management. Strategic Innovation in Marketing and Advertising (UAB). Master in Digital Business. Digital Marketing (ESIC Business & Marketing School). Course in Food Industry Hygiene (Betelgeux).

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