A water treatment facility at our Clitheroe plant in the UK is delivering environmental and financial sustainability benefits


In 2004 a water treatment facility at our Clitheroe plant in the UK began operating. At that time, the cost of disposing of waste sodium nitrate was a significant financial overhead. Today, much of that waste stream has become a commercial product, Nitratrete, generating a significant income. This innovative work, which has been achieved by working with customers, brings both environmental and financial sustainability benefits.

One company's waste may be another company's raw material but the reality is not quite so simple. A programme of market research and innovation followed the opening of the water treatment facility to find customers for the waste stream. The multidisciplinary team identified several customers it is able to work with.

Clitheroe has worked closely with its customers to improve the quality and consistency of the product, and to develop other applications.

Are there other possibilities for the sodium nitrate byproduct? The answer is yes. Other forms and uses are being explored including converting the sodium nitrate solution to a crystalline solid form, so that the water itself is not part of the product, which is then lighter and cheaper to transport and can be used in technical applications.

Significant financial benefits have been achieved by avoiding disposal costs of unsold byproduct and generating revenue from sales.

The environmental benefits are equally clear. By 2017, the target is to commercialise 90% of the sodium nitrate produced at Clitheroe. This is a powerful example of a win-win for sustainability – reducing waste and increasing profit.