India is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world with hundreds of millions of people among their 1.37 B population facing acute water shortage. Severe and widespread droughts coupled with the increasing demand for water spurred by population growth have nearly drained crucial freshwater reservoirs and aquifers across some of India’s largest states, including Gujarat – a major economic and industrial hub.
Water is a critical resource for many important industries in the region, especially food production. In parts of Gujarat where the climate is arid, like Mehsana, water conservation is a pressing challenge. With tightening limits on water usage, food manufacturers need sustainable and cost-effective solutions to improve water use efficiency.
For McCain Foods, the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, access to clean fresh water is vital to create high-quality food and drive business growth. To meet India’s rapidly growing demand for their products, McCain needed to expand their Mehsana operations. However, the plant expansion would triple water consumption. An innovative approach to water use was required to support the expansion and meet future water needs.
As a long-standing partner with McCain, Wood was requested to help them push the boundaries of innovation in wastewater treatment and reuse. Challenging the status quo, our team pioneered a new, more effective approach to biological nutrient removal in combination with ultrafiltration membranes and reverse osmosis to create a water reclamation plant that could recover more than 73 % of total effluent after biological (secondary) treatment and more than 50 % recycled water contribution of total water supplied in the factory.
This unique design provided a reliable source of clean water to the site, allowing the plant to expand and significantly reduce the consumption of water from a local aquifer. It also helped McCain minimise construction and operating costs and forged a path for the Mehsana site to become one of the most efficient users of water in the food industry.
Sustainable water reuse not only enhances economic resilience in Mehsana, but it’s moving McCain one step closer to achieving an ambitious target: improving water use efficiency by 15% in seven priority plants located in water-stressed regions by 2025.