iSpring Associates - Project Case Studies

Recycling Sustainable Manufacturing Water Conservation at Bimbo Bakeries


Bimbo Bakeries USA (BBU) is committed to sustainable business practices, particularly in the area of water conservation.  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:


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