Coega’s Cerebos water wise operations extend beyond SEZ Coega’s Cerebos water wise operations extend beyond SEZ
Coega SEZ investor, Cerebos, made headlines recently, after establishing a promising partnership with Gift of the Givers through the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Business... Coega’s Cerebos water wise operations extend beyond SEZ

Coega SEZ investor, Cerebos, made headlines recently, after establishing a promising partnership with Gift of the Givers through the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Business Chamber.

The primary aim of the partnership is to relieve communities in need from the impact of the ongoing NMB water crisis – an example of a business stepping up to provide immediate solutions to environmental challenges.

Situated in coastal zones 7-9 of the Coega Special Economic Zone, the salt brand has struck an admirable and synergistic balance between sustainability and business efficiency.

With their raw product being sea water and with shares in both the salt and water market (Halo Water), their full utilisation of the natural resource eliminates waste almost entirely.

BOTTLED UP: Bottled water at the Cerebos Halo Water bottling plant

“In terms of salt works, most of what we extract is a natural resource. In terms of seawater, we use the sun’s energy to help evaporate the water,” explains Cerebos Managing Director, John Drinkwater.

He further elaborates that a portion of the water goes through the process of desalination whereby the pure water is stored and packaged. The extracted salt is what ends up on our supper table, while water ends up in the hands of those who need it most.

In addition to a commitment of “one litre of water for every 1kg packet of Cerebos salt sold nationally”, the company currently donates half-a-million litres of water to Gift of the Givers, every day. “Desalination is one of the more sustainable water solutions and a lovely bedfellow for the salt works, it’s great to be able to use the water from the process alongside our core product of salt and be 100% sustainable,” remarks John.

On the other hand, the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), operator of the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which is the landlord where Cerebos is located, recently appointed a Chief Sustainability Officer. The CDC is committed to putting sustainability at the forefront of business growth.

The newly-established Sustainability Business Unit focuses on the organisation’s values and governance model and embraces the linkage between organisational strategy and its sustainability strategy.

“The desalination and onward production of potable water by Cerebos is an important example of a circular economy that is underpinned by circularity in industrial processes. Furthermore, the relationship between Cerebos and Gift of the Givers denotes that industrial symbiosis can and does extend beyond the industrial and manufacturing environment to yield positive societal benefits,” says Telly Chauke, CDC’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

From a business perspective, John admits that the water crisis has had an impact.

“While we are off the municipal grid from a water perspective, it has affected our staff, and therefore, our business, which is why our employees can take home as much bottled water as and when they need it.”

In a similar fashion to the 12 000 kilolitres of desalinated water made available per month at Cerebos, another Coega investor, Q-Plas, saved 171.72 kilolitres of water from August to October 2021 through rainwater harvesting alone, freeing up a dependence on the municipal water supply for their operations for days at a time.

This is enough to fill thirty-four of the facility’s thirty-six 5 000-litre water tanks. Located in the Nelson Mandela Bay Logistics Park (NMBLP), the Q-Plas plans to install additional tanks to increase its rainwater harvesting capacity.

Since the onset of the NMB water crisis, the CDC itself has consistently put stringent measures in place to conserve water and reduce consumption across its growing SEZ.

Furthermore, as demonstrated in the 2021 Coega SEZ investor perception survey, the CDC is committed to working closely with the SEZ’s investors to improve collaboration and satisfaction.

Antoinette Panton

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