Interviews - Exclusive Interviews

Ecolab Makes an Exponential Impact on Water Sustainability

January 2019

Interviews - Exclusive Interviews

Ecolab Makes an Exponential Impact on Water Sustainability

January 2019

Arjan Boogaards is the Senior Vice President and President, Middle East & Africa (MEA) region for Ecolab Inc., the global specialist in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. waterHQ conducted an interview with Boogaards who talked to us about Ecolab’s comprehensive solutions and how the company optimizes water and energy use, and improves operational efficiencies for customers in the MENA region.

waterHQ: Can you brief us on the solutions offered by Ecolab?

Arjan Boogaards: Ecolab is the global specialist in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. We deliver comprehensive solutions, data-driven insights and on-site service to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies for customers in the food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial markets. Our solutions align well with the ‘reuse, reduce and recycle’ ambition. Leading companies turn to Ecolab for ground-breaking digital solutions such as 3D TRASAR™, which combines a linked ecosystem of smart technology, connected chemistry, remote services and extensive expertise to improve a range of industrial operations. 3D TRASAR™ technology provides around-the-clock monitoring by our System Assurance Center and automatically detects conditions that can lead to corrosion, scaling and fouling in boilers and cooling towers. The data gathered translates into actionable insights to further optimize processes.  

waterHQ: What’s next on the digital horizon?

Boogaards: In the coming months, we will take 3D TRASAR™ technology to the next level. We’re working on a cloud-based platform that pulls data from more than 40,000 water systems in 172 countries. This new platform will analyze the information from these water systems to provide intelligence that will help our customers reduce water and energy use, increase efficiencies and save money. By harnessing the power of 72 billion data points every year even more effectively than we do today, we’ll be able to see trends that otherwise would have gone undetected and predict and solve problems before they occur. Other solutions, such as the Water Risk Monetizer, developed by Ecolab in partnership with Trucost and Microsoft, is the industry’s first publicly available financial tool that enables businesses to factor current and future water risks into decision making which have helped make us a market leader. In many areas of the world, water is undervalued and underpriced – even when it is scarce. Low price can obscure water risk. The solution is to capture the real value of water. Water can no longer be viewed as an inexpensive “use and dispose” commodity. Instead, it should be valued as a reusable asset and a growth enabler. By using tools such as the Water Risk Monetizer businesses can justify needed investments and governments can provide incentives. Some forward looking companies have even added “virtual” water costs to their internal accounting. In essence, our technologies are innovative and predictive, and provide actionable insights to address water scarcity, minimize water usage and maximize operational performance.

waterHQ: What is Ecolab’s position in the Middle Eastern market?

Boogaards: We are acutely aware that water scarcity is a pressing global issue, especially here in the Middle East. According to the World Bank, the Middle East suffers from the scarcest water resources globally. We believe acting sustainably makes economic sense. In our view, with governments tightening regulations towards water usage, we help our customers both save money and secure their future by reducing their water footprint. Simple mathematics explains it: there is a finite amount of fresh water in the world and an increasing number of people who need it – more than 9 billion people by 2050, according to the UN.

At Ecolab, we understand the need to develop solutions to tackle these issues. Some examples of our work in the region include:

-              Enabling district cooling plants to use treated sewage effluent (TSE) rather than drinking water to operate their cooling towers thereby completely eliminating their drinking water consumption.

-              Working with a food & beverage manufacturing plant to reduce their water footprint by repurposing their wastewater which minimized the amount of water being discharged

Through our innovative solutions and on-site expertise, we help companies in nearly every industry reduce, recycle and repurpose water throughout their operations.

waterHQ: How is Ecolab currently solving MENA and the world’s most challenging global water issues?

Boogaards: Ecolab is playing its part, but we are only a part of the picture. We make an exponential impact on water sustainability by helping customers reduce fresh water use and minimize environmental impact. Through our smart water management solutions, we have partnered with customers to conserve 634 billion liters of water – that’s equivalent to the annual drinking water needs of more than 600 million people. As an example, In Egypt, using one of our innovative technologies, PURATE™, we have managed to save 650 million liters of water equivalent to the drinking water needs of one million Egyptian people. All industrial operations require water for cleaning, heating and cooling. Not all this water has to be of potable quality. Our digital solutions enable us to automatically detect areas of increased water usage in customer operations. We then substitute potable water with treated grey water, optimizing performance, water use and system costs, while maintaining operational performance.

waterHQ: What is your approach to sustainability?

Boogaards: Sustainability is core to Ecolab’s purpose. According to the UN, by 2030, the world will need 25 percent more energy, 40 percent more water and 35 percent more food. We cannot operate without paying close attention to sustainability. Ecolab’s approach is four-pronged, operating in a way that enhances these key elements: reducing the energy required to power key processes across industries; preservation and protection of water, and the expertise to solve both food safety and hygiene challenges.

waterHQ: What are the key challenges facing sustainability in the MENA region?

Boogaards: There are several challenges facing sustainability in the region. The main one is simply that we are using more water than we should. According to the UN World Water Development Report 2017, only an estimated 51 percent of municipal and industrial wastewater is treated in the MENA region. Given that the region is at high risk due to low water sources, this is not enough and there is significant room for improvement.

waterHQ: What does Ecolab have in store for MENA water markets in the near future?

Boogaards: Let’s look at the UAE which has one of the highest consumption rates globally of water per capita, with residents using 550 liters of water per day compared with the international average of 170-300 liters. Figures suggest that in Abu Dhabi by 2030, it is estimated that annual water demand could grow by 123 percent, meaning approximately 5 billion liters annually. There is so much we can do to help governments and businesses reduce, reuse and recycle their water. We are committed to continue to provide cutting-edge technologies and smart innovations to address water-related challenges in the industries we serve, in MENA and globally.

waterHQ: What are your goals for 2019?

Boogaards: Ecolab’s vision extends beyond 2019. We look for a sustainable future, where we help save 900 billion liters of water annually by 2030. We’re working to reach our main goal - to conserve water that equates to the drinking needs of more than 1 billion people. Our business is closely aligned with global macro trends, including the growing population and with it, increased demand for food, water and energy in a world of limited resources. As we look to the future, our core capabilities will remain vital to a wide range of industries, with tremendous growth potential, and we continually partner with our customers to ensure we’re addressing their needs and helping to grow their business.