Water Efficiency Makes Good Business $ense at Unilever Home and Personal Care-USA

Unilever Home and Personal Care – USA, a manufacturer of powdered laundry detergent in Cartersville, Georgia, has demonstrated that water efficiency can lead to significant dollar savings. As part of its environmental management system (EMS), Unilever implemented a progressive water efficiency program that focuses on continuous improvement and employee participation. The results of Unilever’s water efficiency efforts are communicated to its employees, and a portion of the cost savings from these efforts are used to fund employee bonuses.

Water Efficiency Measures

In 1995, Unilever performed a detailed water audit to identify water uses, wastewater sources, and the costs associated with water use and wastewater generation. These costs included the labor and laboratory fees associated with their wastewater pretreatment permit. Over the next four years, the following water efficiency measures were implemented:

  1. Heightened employee awareness of environmental and economic benefits of water conservation
  2. Reuse of non-contact cooling water
  3. Reuse of washwater
  4. Collection and use of rainwater in manufacturing process
  5. Reuse of water from scrubbers and parts washing
  6. Automatic control of cooling water


As shown in the Figure, Unilever achieved a 77% reduction in wastewater effluent volume and average annual cost savings of $20,000 in potable water. At present, only sanitary wastewater, boiler blowdown, and a few cooling water sources are discharged to the sewer. Through these efforts, Unilever is no longer considered a Significant Industrial User by the City of Cartersville Water Department. This change in status of their pretreatment permit resulted in a savings of $85,000 per year in analytical testing, maintenance, and labor costs.