Aspen mulls water supply options

Pharmaceutical giant looking into alternative sources in PE, including purification and desalination

Stephen Saad. File picture
Stephen Saad. File picture

With supply dams at a crisis level, one of Nelson Mandela Bay’s biggest employers is investigating alternative water sources such as purification of borehole water and the desalination of seawater as back-up options.

Aspen Pharmacare used 188 000kl of water in the last financial year, 62 000kl shy of filling a 10-lane Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The pharmaceutical giant said while all its water was provided by the municipality, it was exploring other options for the near future.

“The municipality has an integrated network of supply dams that supplies the Korsten area, where the Port Elizabeth site is located,” Aspen group chief executive Stephen Saad said.

“The Port Elizabeth site is investigating long-term alternative water sources including purification of borehole water and desalination of seawater.

“The site has engaged with the municipality with respect to identifying potential solutions together with neighbouring companies.”

Water is a vital resource in the company’s manufacturing processes.

“Water scarcity is a global risk and one that we have increasingly been exposed to due to the severe drought conditions in the Western and Eastern Cape.

“As a scarce resource, and in line with our environmental management principles, we are committed to using water responsibly by implementing feasible water conservation and recycling projects.

“As the saying by Peter Drucker [worldrenowned for his innovative thinking in business management] goes, ‘you can’t manage it if you can’t measure it’,” he said.

Saad said all Aspen sites were responsible for measuring and reporting all the water consumed and discharged from its site.

This, he said, created a practical base for setting effective SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) projects to reduce water consumption.

Aspen earlier this month launched a new R1-billion high-containment facility in Port Elizabeth, creating 220 new jobs. The JSE-listed company said the high-containment facility and a sterile facility that is under construction would together create 500 jobs.

The next investment phase – the multibillion-rand sterile facility – would create 280 jobs.

At the launch, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip said the investment gave the municipality’s credit rating a significant boost.

“It’s fantastic that the city’s credit rating has improved [because] that can only happen when people believe there’s economic stability and obviously the running of our finances in the city has led to that,” he said.