As environmental awareness increases, regulations tighten, and the technology improves, more and more businesses across the UK are seeing value in installing greywater systems to reduce water consumption and business water rates. In this article, we explain more about how greywater systems work and highlight our top 6 tips when it comes to implementing a greywater system at your business. 

What is greywater?

Greywater recycling systems utilise the wastewater from internal appliances in a building. Greywater refers to the wastewater generated in buildings from showers, baths, and sinks – all streams without faecal contamination. This water is still relatively clean after it’s been used, so once it’s passed through the system, it can be reused for flushing toilets and irrigating gardens.

What is greywater recycling?

Greywater recycling refers to the treatment of ‘grey’ wastewater to be reused and fed back into the business for non-potable purposes. 

How does it work?

Wastewater is collected from washbasins, showers, and baths in a building. This greywater is then fed into the greywater system, where it is filtered and pumped into a storage tank. The water sits in the tank until it is needed, and is pumped out for reuse in toilet flushing or irrigation.

First, wastewater is collected from appliances and fed into a collection unit (via pumps or gravity). The collection unit removes contaminants using biological, chemical and physical actions.

From here, the wastewater is pumped into a treatment system for ‘ultrafiltration’ which prevents particles, bacteria and viruses from passing through to the next stage of the system.

The treated water is stored in a tank before being pumped out for reuse in toilet flushing or irrigation on-demand (the greywater cannot sit for extended time periods in the tank otherwise it is at risk of becoming contaminated).

What are the benefits of greywater recycling?

  • Reduce your business’ water consumption and thus water costs
  • Greywater recycling can reduce water consumption by up to 40%
  • Due to the savings on business water rates, a greywater system will typically pay for itself in three to five years
  • Unlike a rainwater collection system, a greywater recycling system typically has a quicker return on investment and isn’t dependent on the level of rainfall
  • Fairly low maintenance, typically requiring an annual visual inspection
  • Reduce your environmental impact 
  • Reduce carbon emissions and energy use
  • Increase credits to secure BREEAM or LEED building standards

6 top tips when implementing a business greywater system

1. Check if you are eligible for the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme

The UK’s ECA programme has made the installation of greywater systems very appealing to UK businesses. If your business qualifies, you’ll be able to write off the entire investment cost for the system against taxable profits. 

2.Grey by design

To maximise your return on your greywater system, it’s best to design your greywater system into the building to allow for the specific pipework and space for the filtration and storage tanks. You can retro-fit this infrastructure, but this can prove cost-prohibitive and can also cause disruption to your business operations. On the other hand, it’s relatively cheap for a property developer to fit a greywater system during a build.

3. Data-driven maintenance 

Greywater systems can be fitted with built-in telemetry to transmit live diagnostics and system data to give businesses greater visibility on the required maintenance over their water systems.

4. Untreated greywater is not to be stored

Most greywater contains organic materials which tend to decompose and produce odours if the water is stored for too long. Untreated greywater should be used immediately. 

5. Minimum contact advised

For hygiene purposes, it’s best to avoid contact with greywater since even filtered greywater may contain contaminants. Any mechanical filter systems should also be located well away from any food preparation, storage and cooking areas.

6. Avoid using harmful chemicals to treat greywater 

Part of the reason to use a greywater system is to minimise environmental impact. Thus, your greywater treatment system shouldn’t rely on chemicals that can harm the environment. These chemicals can enter and pollute water systems and rivers.

Water is one of the earth’s most precious resources: what are you doing to conserve it? Installing a greywater system can be a viable option that saves you money, while helping you work towards your business’ sustainability goals and preparing your business for the future. 

Contact a Smarter Business consultant for more water saving solutions.