• Very water-intensive, the agri-food industry is worried about the episode of drought which could lead to water restrictions.

  • To preserve the resource and limit their water consumption, several Breton actors are campaigning for the reuse of treated wastewater.

  • Due to very strict regulations, France lags behind in this area compared to some of its European neighbors.

The first alerts date back to mid-April.

After two fairly wet years, France is facing a particularly early drought this year.

No region is spared either.

In Brittany, a region often mocked for its weather, three departments (Ille-et-Vilaine, Morbihan and Côtes-d'Armor) have been placed on alert for several days.

The situation of course worries farmers but also those involved in the food industry, a particularly water-intensive industry.

Since the end of 2019, a working group called "Collective clean water" has been set up within the Breton association of agro-food industries (ABEA), a powerful network that brings together nearly 200 companies and more than 50,000 employees in the region. .

To reduce their water consumption and preserve the resource, these players advocate the development of the Reuse, a solution for reusing treated wastewater.

Very strict regulations in France

In this area, France is a bit behind some of its European neighbours.

For fear of a health scandal, the regulations are indeed very strict for agrifood companies.

“We can only use drinking water in the food process, to clean the production lines for example,” emphasizes Clothilde d'Argentré, environmental project manager at ABEA.

After treatment, the reuse of this wastewater is then only possible for the exterior washing of trucks, the cooling of boilers or the watering of lawns, for example.

For the members of the ABEA, however, solutions exist to treat and filter this waste water and make it drinkable again.

And therefore usable in the food process.

In Canada, for example, a brewery has developed a beer from wastewater.

Ditto in Belgium or Spain where the reuse of wastewater is highly developed.

Considerable water savings

At a time when the lack of water is becoming more and more acute all over the planet, the authorization of this Reuse in France would allow, according to the ABEA, considerable water savings.

"After a survey of 28 Breton agri-food sites, we identified 2.5 million cubic meters of drinking water, the equivalent of more than 800 Olympic swimming pools", indicates Clothilde d'Argentré.

The subject was also at the heart of the discussions during the Varenne agricole de l'eau which was held at the beginning of the year.

Despite progress, “the development of food Reuse projects is currently at a standstill”, regrets the ABEA.

“While food sovereignty is an issue that is more topical than ever, what are we waiting for to trust companies and adopt pragmatic solutions that will help make our food chain more resilient?

“Questions Olivier Clanchin, president of the ABEA and also CEO of the agri-food group Olga, calling on the authorities “to show common sense”.


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  • Planet

  • Drought

  • Water

  • Waste

  • Agrifood

  • Industry

  • Brittany

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