One of Barbados’ largest beverage companies says the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) levy coupled with the change in water rate has resulted in its operation costs shooting up by about 40 per cent.
However, officials are giving the assurance that there would be no increase in the prices of its aerated soft drinks and other products as a result.
Additionally, with up to 20 per cent of every gallon of water used at the facility being considered waste water, the company is seeking to enter into a unique partnership with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to ensure further improvement in conserving and reusing water from that facility.
General Manager of the Barbados Bottling Company Limited (BBC) Andre Thomas made the disclosure on Wednesday, following a tour of the Newton, Christ Church facility by members of the BWA, the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources and members of the media.
Thomas said the BBC got all its water from the BWA, and while he opted not to say what the company’s monthly bill was, he said “we pay heavily for it”.
“Any impact on the financial performance of the business will have a significant impact on bottomline and the ability to operate. So yes, the increase in the water rates and GSC tax impacted our business heavily. Our cost went up probably by 30 or 40 per cent,” he said.
In addition to the GSC, which took effect in August 2018 and is set at 50 per cent of the water bill, the BWA also adjusted its water rates for commercial customers in May last year, moving it from a fixed 4.66 per cubit metre to a sliding scale.
Thomas said while the impact was significant “at the end of the day we are a part of the environment”, and therefore anything that is useful for the country and the environment “we support”.
He said the company would be ramping up its water recycling efforts and forming closer ties with the BWA and the Sanitation Services Authority in that regard.
“We are willing to invest and put our money where our mouth is to support Barbados and everybody benefits,” said Thomas.
Wednesday’s tour was designed primarily to give the BWA and the ministry officials a first-hand view of the measures in place at the beverage manufacturing plant to capture its waste water and recycle it, and to discuss ways to put the recycled water to greater use.
Barbados TODAY understands that while the company has been capturing the waste water and purifying it and using back some of it to do cleaning, a significant amount of it is being returned to the aquifers.
The BBC, which was once part of the Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) Group for decades, but was sold to Coca-Cola bottling partner KOSCAB Distribution Barbados Limited in 2018, is one of the top five heaviest users of water from the BWA.
“One of the things we want to ensure we do is to either replenish or conserve all resources that we use. Water is a big part of what we use in our production process. So is plastic,” said Thomas.
He noted that while approximately 80 per cent of every plastic bottle produced by the company was recycled and exported as raw material, he wanted to be able to “say the same for water”.
“In our production process out of every gallon of water that is used about 10, 15 or 20 per cent is used as waste water. Right now we produce about 8,000 gallons of waste water that can be used within the Barbados market for either irrigation of the million trees that the Prime Minister has talked about or for irrigation of football fields for the National Sports Council,” he said.
Thomas also pointed out that the company, which currently directly employs 120 people, had recently finished installing solar photovoltaic on its roof.
“We expect to save about 11 or 12 per cent in energy consumption. Our limitation really is government regulation. We want to go even higher but we need to make sure we are within the government regulation,” said Thomas.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams said he was impressed by the technology being used at the plant and the innovation used to capture the waste water and recycle it, adding that he was looking forward “to synergies” between the BWA and the BBC.
Officials of the two entities are to carry out further discussions in order to cement what form the collaboration will take and if there would be any form of compensation or reduction in water bill for the company.
General Manager of the BWA Keithroy Halliday agreed there was definitely room for collaboration.
“One of the things we have been pushing for . . . is the fact that instead of using potable water you can use water such as what you are treating, to wash down driveways and buildings. I believe that is an avenue we will pursue,” said Halliday, who said the BWA was also keen to learn from the BBC in relation to the capturing and treatment of waste water.