Friday, September 16, 2011

Yuk factor a barrier to water reuse in UK

Materials Handling World (UK): The belief there is an endless supply of clean fresh water and an apparent squeamishness about recycled water are serious barriers to better use of the vital resource in UK homes and businesses, experts have warned.

At the first of three meetings entitled 'Engineering the future of water', organised by the Engineering the Future alliance, six speakers from academia, industry and agriculture looked into public attitudes to local water recycling, presenting real life examples of water use in the UK and globally.

Professor Paul Jeffrey of Cranfield University said there was a deep rooted reluctance in the UK to use reused or recycled 'grey' water in homes and businesses - not suitable for drinking but good for flushing toilets and watering plants. He said: "If you look at the amount of waste water we reuse, it's almost negligible. If water reuse is to make a more significant contribution, we've got a lot of work to do and a key component of that work is making sure that public attitudes to recycling are appropriately understood. We know there's an instinctive resistance to recycling - often called the 'yuk factor'. But we also know that the source, the use and the tightness of the reuse cycle are important determinants of public attitudes."

He added: "People don't seem to mind using their own grey water but they don't like using their neighbours' grey water."

Public health concerns of home owners and businesses often prove to be barriers to the take-up of new recycling technology. Dr Ben Courtis of GE Water said that while he could supply equipment to companies which could enable them to use 'grey' water in their processes and reduce their use of expensive drinking quality water by 50 per cent or more, manufacturers and buyers believe their brand image would be compromised if they were seen to be using less than top-quality water...

Photo by Vladimir Menkov, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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