Revision of Natsurv 3: Water and waste water management in the soft drink industry

Funded by: Water Research Commission
April 2013 – March 2015

Project description
In the 1980s, the Water Research Commission together with the Department of Water Affairs prepared 16 guideline documents related to water and wastewater management within various industrial sectors, including the Soft Drink Sector. While these NATSURV guidelines have been well received by the respective sectors, the information contained in these guidelines may no longer be valid for the sector because of changes in technology and an increased awareness of the need to conserve water and protect natural resources. Hence, the WRC solicited proposals to review the existing guides and update the information in terms of sector size and water and wastewater management practises. This review should also evaluate the current uptake of cleaner production, water pinch, and water foot-printing within each sector, as well as make recommendations for further opportunities in line with best practice. 

In April 2013, WRC commissioned the Pollution Research Group to update the Guidelines for the Soft Drink Industry. The aim of this project is to undertake a survey of the South African Soft Drink industry in order to obtain an overview of operations, specific water use, specific effluent volume and the extent to which best practice is being implemented. This evaluation is to be achieved through a review of the literature, the facilitation of workshops for stakeholders within the sector, interviews with environmental managers of key soft drink companies in South Africa, and site visits. 
The outcomes from this project will be a greater understanding of the soft drink industry within South Africa in terms of processes, best practise and water and wastewater management issues. It will provide a starting point for further practical real-life optimisation of the industry in order to reduce water and energy.

At present, an initial review of the literature and available industry statistics has been completed, and questionnaire and evaluation plan has been drafted in order to survey key stakeholders in the soft drink industry. From the initial review of literature and a review of the 1987 Natsurv Guidelines, parameters and definitions for the study have been set. Soft drink products to be included in the study include: 
  • Carbonated soft drinks (cola and non-cola based)
  • Bottled water (carbonated and still)
  • Bottled water (flavoured)
  • Functional water (contains additives to increase nutrient value)
  • 100% Juice
  • Fruit flavoured drinks (no fruit concentrate)
  • Juice concentrates / nectars (20 to 99% fruit)
  • Still RTD tea (ready to drink)
  • Sports drinks (contain electrolytes and sugars)
The study will not include fruit juices or dairy blends produced in a dairy, or energy drink containing stimulants. 

The information gathered from the literature and existing guideline has been used to draft a survey instrument that will be employed to survey the Soft Drink Sector within South Africa. This survey intends to identify the sector’s main players, their location, water and wastewater management procedures, environmental policies, and other relevant topics. In addition, a review of the international soft drink sector will be undertaken in order to provide a comparison to the local market and to define international best practice.