Sustainability in Action

Turning the tap: water reduction in Spennymoor

Jess Dixon

As you may know, Thorn and the wider Zumtobel Group actively support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Some of those link directly to water, including SDG 6 - ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ and SDG 12 - ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’. While SDG 6 aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, SDG 12 focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

At our manufacturing facility in Spennymoor, UK, we’ve introduced a variety of measures that work towards these goals. As a result of efforts so far, we have realised a 50% reduction in water consumption from 2000m3 to 1000m3.

Flow metres

Early in 2021, calibrated flow metres were fitted to main water pipes. This allowed us to measure water usage across the plant and identify significant water usage. From here, we could then put a plan in place to reduce consumption.

Pipe freezing

Through freezing, repairs can be carried out to a pipe system without the need to drain it. In our case, we were able to use this technique to fix a faulty gauge on a sprinkler system which has saved 930m3 (equivalent to 930,000 litres) of water.

Paint plants

Our paint plants require a huge amount of energy to operate. In fact, 95% of all site gas is used by the paint plants alone. That’s up to 5 million KwH a year or, to make it clearer, the same as the average use of 420 households. But this consumption has also decreased – more on that in an upcoming article.

But when it comes to water, we have been able to implement simple processes to reduce consumption. By introducing Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), we can reuse water, meaning there is 66% less waste.

The installation of paint plant pumps means we can now recycle rinse tank water to chemical tanks.

Water conductivity monitoring in the pre-treatment process allows us to monitor water cleanliness and therefore reduce refresh frequency.

Furthermore, we monitor and control the paint plant’s wash tank to ensure improvements are sustained.


It’s not just the work areas where changes are being made. We’ve also installed reduced flow taps and flush sensors in all washrooms – further reducing water usage.

But it’s not just Spennymoor that’s working hard to make responsible choices when it comes to water. Zumtobel Group’s facilities around the world are all taking steps to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Come back soon for more highlights about the changes we’re implementing to achieve those goals