Around 40 per cent of the world population is affected by water shortages, requiring novel approaches in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. A Danish laundry facility in Holbæk recently reached a breakthrough on the way to becoming the first "drinking waterless” laundry system.
While many countries are lagging behind on pledges to meet the Agenda 2030 objectives, several Danish companies are making local breakthroughs that can deliver global solutions. Berendsen’s laundry in Holbæk aims to become the world’s first laundry facility that can wash completely without drinking water for the benefit of the environment, people and economy.
A large sustainable laundering demonstration plant
After the first successful pilot tests of washing in purified rainwater, the laundry facility has reached yet another breakthrough by enabling endless cleansing and recycling of water used by industrial washing machines. While the laundry facility in Holbæk has proven that textiles can be washed with endlessly recyclable water, approx. 20 per cent of the water is repeatedly lost for sludge and the evaporation that occurs naturally in a washing process. The idea is to replace that water with rainwater or recycled water. In order to meet the laundry facilty’s need to collect enough rainwater, the local utility company Fors A/S has agreed to test how the laundry facility can connect to their rainwater systems.
The project has been supported by VUDP (Water Sector Development and Demonstration Program) to enable the development of a large demonstration plant, which will uncover future opportunities for collecting and distributing rainwater and other secondary water.
-Related solution: Residential and Commercial Water Treatment with Aquaporin Inside
Advancing the SDGs across borders
The laundry facility in Holbæk is the local utility company’s 6th largest water consumer. Therefore local water consumption will be reduced significantly in a few years once the facility’s supply of drinking water has been shut off. In the long term, the goal is to expand the new system to several nationwide departments, offering businesses and municipalities across the country sustainably laundering without the use of drinking water.
“We hope that other laundries beside our own can benefit from our experience. Economically, the project is relevant in Nordic countries with high water taxes. But replacing drinking water with recycled water can also globally ensure that companies get more sustainable production and achieve growth without environmental degradation,” says Louise Elver, CSR Manager at Berendsen Denmark.
In 2017, Berendsen became part of the world’s second largest textile service partner, meaning they have great potential to spread sustainable solutions across borders to hundreds of other laundry facilities – including those located in remote countries facing acute water shortage challenges.
-Related solution: Water recycled means water saved