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The Rippleffect: Water Efficiency for Businesses (2014)

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WRAP Rippleffect

The Rippleffect Tool has been developed by the not-for-profit company WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme). The tool aims to provide businesses with a straightforward and structured approach to; 

  • understand how much water the business uses,
  • identify simple ways to start saving water and money,
  • measure the water and cost savings made and,
  • learn about ‘quick win’ water saving devices.

This assessment is based on 2 in-depth interviews with medium to large businesses.

Key findings and expert assessment: 

  • As a tool Rippleffect is considered user-friendly, with good instructions and additional support in the form of webinars. 
  • Those that had used the resource had not questioned the built-in assumptions, and trusted any hypotheses used.
  • Mixed results were reported with regards to the impact of the tool, and it is suggested that it is most suitable for those organisations that were ‘resource-hungry’ and used vast quantities of water.
  • Reasons for choosing and using the resource 

Both organisations interviewed were medium – large businesses with operations primarily based in the UK. Cost saving was the primary motivating factor for both organisations. However, while one had a goal of ‘saving 200 k this year’, the driving factor for the other was a ‘horrendous’ water bill. The familiarity with tools varied. The former organization had used similar tools for waste reduction and thus appreciated ‘having a point of reference’ and being able to ‘go to someone who could answer questions, provide directions’. The other organization had never used such a tool, only trying the Rippleffect because they were invited to use it as a part of the local framework within the water company. The tool then helped them identify a ‘massive leak’ in their system before the water bill arrived. However, they shared that they would have probably identified the leak when their next bill came in since the price had drastically increased from ‘less than 100 pounds a quarter to about 2000 pounds’. 

  • Data 

The respondents felt that the Rippleffect was fairly straight-forward. It primarily required details from water bills. Time required varied depending on the organisation’s goals. While one organization spent 2-3 weeks in preparation, the other spent only a couple of days. 

  • Practicality of using the resource 

Both organisations felt the tool was user-friendly and the instructions provided were more than adequate. The organisation which was implementing lean projects in order to save £200k particularly found the webinar (30 mins) very useful. In addition, they also appreciated having tailored support and advice from WRAP.

  • Assumptions used in the resource 

The respondents felt that it was not necessary to know the hypothesis behind the tool because it is laid out in a very user-friendly format. The Rippleffect tool was clearly explained; ‘It is all there for it to be picked up and utilised as wanted really’. 

  • Suitability of the resource 

The Rippleffect tool was found to be suitable for businesses looking to save water and associated costs. However, the general view was that it was most suitable for those organisations that were ‘resource-hungry’ and used vast quantities of water. One organization admitted that the Rippleffect tool had helped them identify that 80% of their water usage was to manufacture specific products. They felt that the tool could be adapted further if required, depending on the particular project manager’s requirements within an organization and how they wished to use the tool. The other organization felt that although the tool was useful, it was limited in its impact since they did not consume large volumes of water in their operations.

  • Costs 

The tool was freely available over the internet. The primary cost involved was the user’s time. One organisation felt that the tool was in fact used more because it was free compared to if one had to pay for it. They also shared that they were very pleased with the results; ‘We’ve got about 20% of savings.’ Added to this, they anticipated a savings of about £50 – 60k if they implemented some of recommendations from the audit. They felt that Rippleffect helped them become aware of water meters and how to use water more efficiently, different procedures within their processes, reuse of water such as how they could reuse our washout water from one of the processes. As a result, it was perceived to be very good value for money.

  • Communication 

While one organisation hadn’t used the results from the tool for the purpose of communication, the other had used it in several different ways. They had communicated the results to their customers and had received very good feedback from them; ‘We’re probably one of the first suppliers to do this without being told, so yeah it is going well. When you get feedback from your customer that they are very happy with what is going on, then it is good’. They also felt that buy-in from senior management was a crucial differentiating factor in the success of the tool within an organization. The effort involved in communicating the results was perceived to be minor since it was a full-time role within their organization. However, it was recognised that businesses without similar organisational structures could find it more difficult.