How to recycle domestic wastewater

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Having access to clean, potable water at all times is something many of us take for granted. Equally, many of us probably don’t give much thought to wastewater and how this could be reused. The reality is that only 2.5% of the earth’s water is freshwater, highlighting the scarcity of this valuable resource. Recent research has also shown that one-fifth of groundwater wells now face the risk of running dry, which causes how we use water within our homes to be brought into question.

To become more sustainable, businesses and households are now encouraged to consider how they can reuse wastewater and reduce water stress. Continue reading to discover how your household can do your bit to help the environment and recycle your wastewater.  

What is wastewater?

Wastewater refers to any water which has become impacted by domestic, industrial or commercial use. Wastewater can come from toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, sinks, baths, and showers within the home. Wastewater generated from domestic environments is also referred to as greywater, with the previously mentioned components contributing 50 – 80% of a household’s wastewater.

Households who actively recycle their wastewater could find themselves saving around 70 litres of potable water each day, saving significant amounts of money as well as becoming more eco-friendly.

What is water stress?

Water stress refers to the inability and lack of resources to reach the human demand for fresh water and is also described as water scarcity. Water stress can be caused by various factors, from droughts to pollution and reusing wastewater is an ideal way to manage our limited water resources better.

The environmental impacts of wastewater

Many are unaware of the journey that our water goes on before it is released from our taps. Often referred to as the urban water cycle, water is taken from the environment, such as groundwater or surface water from rivers, and is then treated in a water treatment plant before being pumped into our homes, using vast amounts of energy.

As a result, the water production process, including transportation, carries a significant carbon footprint, accounting for 11% of carbon emissions. Additionally, heating water within our homes can account for up to 89% of carbon use when considering household water use. Therefore, becoming more efficient with our domestic water use can be a substantial carbon saving method.

Domestic water use accounts for a considerable percentage of the public water supply at around 49%, with 51% accounting for agricultural and energy production use.

Around 20% of water is wasted in the UK through leakages within the water production pipe infrastructure. However, the most significant cause of wasted water within our homes is the water we flush down the toilet. The amount of water wasted through this cause will vary depending on the type of toilet you have and how old it is.

How can we reuse domestic wastewater?

Sarah Ward from the West Country Rivers Trust believes that there needs to be a shift in mindset and behaviour regarding how to use water at home. There are many opportunities where wastewater can be reused at home if we all made it more of a priority.

For example, water from the bath could potentially be reused in the garden or for washing the car. Harvesting rainwater is also an excellent way to recycle water, using a water butt as storage. This method can save vast amounts of energy as water is being captured where it falls and being reused where it has fallen, negating the need for transportation and being pumped into your home.

As well as recycling greywater, you can also save water with small action such as turning off the tap whilst you brush your teeth or installing a cistern displacement device, which can help save water each time you flush the toilet.  

As previously mentioned, heating water in your home can waste substantial amounts of energy, so it can be more economical and sustainable to install an instant boiling water tap rather than using a traditional kettle. A boiling water tap ensures that you only release the water you need and is cheaper to run each day than boiling a kettle.

What is being done for the future of domestic wastewater?

There are concerns for the future of domestic water use as there are currently no building regulations or systems in place that allow for improved efficiency. For example, there are no requirements for new-build homes to be fitted with a water scavenging system. Similarly, homeowners who are more environmentally conscious have to currently leave a bucket in their bathroom to collect their used water.

That being said, Sarah Ward notes that the per capita consumption of water per day has reduced significantly over the years. In 2011-2012, average water consumption was 146-148 litres and dropped to 141 litres in 2016-2017. The reduction in numbers suggests that more people are becoming conscious of how they use water at home. The next target is for per capita consumption to reduce to 100 or 80 litres over the coming years.

If all continue to be mindful about our water usage at home, we collectively contribute to an eco-friendlier society. If you’d like to know more about our chic instant boiling water taps to elevate both your kitchen style and sustainability.

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