The Sustainability Buzz

iSpring Identifies $68K in Annual Water Conservation Opportunities at Bimbo Bakeries Plant

Water Conservation at Bimbo BakeriesiSpring is pleased to announce the completion of an important water conservation project with Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU).  The project, conducted in collaboration with the Enterprise Systems Center of Lehigh University, focused on opportunities for water conservation at a cake plant.  BBU is the largest bakery company in the United States, producing brands such as Entenmann’s cakes, Thomas’ English muffins, Boboli pizza shells and Stroehmann bread.  They recently acquired Sara Lee Company, significantly expanding their footprint in the United States.

BBU is a division of Grupo Bimbo, one of the world’s leading bakery companies with facilities in 17 countries.  As a food production company with headquarters in Mexico City, Grupo Bimbo is particularly sensitive to the need for a constant, reliable supply of clean water for their baking operations.  Because many of their facilities are located in the more arid portions of the world, they could be vulnerable to water shortages as well as price spikes as the water supply becomes increasingly taxed.  Therefore, all Bimbo facilities have a major interest in reducing water usage as much as possible through conservation and reuse.

The Challenge

One of their cake plants presented a unique opportunity to pursue not only water conservation but also cost reduction.  Because of local restrictions, the plant is required to truck much of its wastewater to a treatment facility, rather than utilize the municipal sewer system.  This requirement adds considerable cost to the disposal of the wastewater.   While water purchase cost is relatively low in this municipality, the disposal costs are quite high.  Finding ways to limit wastewater for disposal by truck and treatment plant would also result in lower costs.

Project Description

iSpring, in collaboration with the Enterprise Systems Center from Lehigh University, identified the sources, uses and disposal means of the plant’s water system.  The resulting water map was used as the basis for determining the cost per gallon of water based on the use and the disposal method for that gallon.  Water costs ranged from a low of $.005/gallon for water used directly in product to a high of $.337/gallon of water for wastewater that must be trucked from the facility and that includes the chemical used as a foaming detergent.

The project team analyzed 44 water-related processes within the plant that used the most water in terms of gallons and the most water in terms of cost.  Because of the significant variance in the cost per gallon of water, these two analyses yielded very different results.  The top three water usage areas by gallons were different from the top three water usage areas by cost.  Combining this information, the project team focused on those areas where there was the greatest potential for cost reduction primarily through reducing wastewater.  Through observation and trial implementation, the team identified process improvements including standardization of equipment and operating procedures and scheduling changes that would reduce water usage.


The project team achieved the following results:

  • Identification of water conservation opportunities that would yield savings of 262,774 gallons and $68,102 per year
  • Opportunities for non-water waste reduction that would result in significant additional reduction of waste removal costs
  • Input based on observations into creation of Standard Operating Procedures
  • Enhanced understanding of the sources, uses, costs, and methods of disposal of water and waste

To read more case studies of successful projects iSpring has completed in the areas of sustainable manufacturing, waste and alternative energy, click here.

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