In focus: Role of sustainable cleaning and sanitation practices in providing access to pure, safe bottled drinking water


Alexander van ’t Riet, CEO, Mai Dubai highlights the pivotal role of hygiene in providing safe bottled drinking water to the masses.


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Facilities Management
January 28, 2022
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In focus: Role of sustainable cleaning and sanitation practices in providing access to pure, safe bottled drinking water

Access to pure and safe drinking water is a basic human right. As each individual needs water to live, an adequate and regular supply of this important resource must be made available to all. Having high-quality and safe drinking water is fundamental to protecting and promoting overall public health. It has been, in fact, included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which Sustainable Development Goal number 6 focuses on clean water and sanitation for all. 

To ensure safe drinking water, minimum requirements, along with other standards and protocols, have been put in place for risk management. Hygiene and sustainable cleaning procedures ensure the removal of harmful components and play a huge role in guaranteeing that the water supply is safe for consumption. Globally, countries and industries have set up their specifications and guidelines based on their respective economic, environmental, social, and cultural considerations. 

In the UAE bottled water sector, industry players are mandated by regulatory bodies to comply with the highest levels of hygiene and cleaning. Their treatment and bottling processes must consistently adhere to excellent hygiene and cleaning provisions to protect water quality and ensure public health compliance.  From filtration and processing to packaging, labelling, and storing to transport and distribution, each stage must prioritize food safety and cleanliness at all times while minimizing, if not eliminating, any hazard.  

Alexander van ’t Riet, CEO, Mai Dubai,

Alexander van ’t Riet, CEO, Mai Dubai, said: “Ultimately, public health always takes precedence over other considerations. As such, companies in the industry must follow all safety and health guidelines to ensure that their bottled water products are suitable for the communities they serve. Excellent practices start by protecting water resources, making sure that they are free from any contamination before bottling and during distribution to the market. In the UAE companies are obligated to meet all set legal requirements put in place by the government authorities for them to continue operating. At Mai Dubai, we safeguard that we implement the best manufacturing practices and health and safety standards”  

Mai Dubai, which is fully owned by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), is an industry leader in the UAE. It serves as an excellent model in terms of implementing and continuously enhancing food safety procedures to ensure high-quality bottled water products while reducing their environmental impact. 

As environmental sustainability is increasingly becoming integrated into business processes, merely implementing hygiene and cleaning processes is no longer sufficient. Eco-friendly solutions are equally necessary and must complement the daily hygiene and food risk control procedures observed within organizations.  

In Dubai, where public health and wellbeing are highly prioritized along with sustainability, key procedures are enforced to achieve product safety and quality in the sector. The specifications are necessary to guide bottled water companies in terms of aligning their standards and complying with government-mandated hygiene and cleaning protocols that are good for the environment.   

Mai Dubai way: Ensuring product quality & sustainability

Reiterating that hygiene is one of the most important responsibilities of every drinking bottled water company, Mai Dubai adheres to best hygiene and sanitation practices during production, packaging, and distribution.  

Mai Dubai’s focus on ensuring cleanliness and hygiene remained at the core of operations even in the wake of disruptions and new realities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The filling lines in Mai Dubai’s facility, for instance, are placed in “clean rooms” and are sanitized regularly every two to three days depending on the line. Every production line takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to sanitize using automatic CIP (computerized Clean In Place systems). In addition, every single part of the water treatment plant is sanitized by specially designed chemicals or hot water following a pre-described cycle controlled by high sophisticated automated operational software. In fact, in line with its high-quality principles, Mai Dubai goes above and beyond by sanitizing more often than what is prescribed by law.

The company’s operations are fully automated to eliminate to a great extent the need for human intervention ensuring cleanliness, control and repeatability. Its facility is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, high-output modern production equipment, robots, and a 1.1-km monorail with 44 carts to transport both finished goods and raw materials within the facility with zero human intervention. 

Every single operation at Mai Dubai’s facility is performed by machines with minimal human intervention, right from the arrival of raw materials up to the loading of the final products onto the transportation trucks and sales vehicles. The facility has two fully automated high-bay warehouses—one for raw materials material and one for finished goods— both equipped with AI technology.

Mai Dubai is not remiss in its commitment to put environmental sustainability into its operations either. Apart from its LEED-certified office building, it has also implemented numerous initiatives to realize its sustainability goals. The company has been a net-zero energy consumer since launching its rooftop solar panel installation project. Under this initiative, around 52,056 solar panels have been installed into its rooftop, which is the second-largest solar rooftop installation in the world. In 2020, the solar panels produced more than 30 million kWh of energy. Of this energy, the facility only consumed 26 million kWh, the remaining part was fed back into the electricity grid.  

Hygiene mindset

Mai Dubai also encourages a hygiene mindset in its people, believing that the employees are critical to ensuring a successful implementation of world-class practices.  As such, it conducts regular training on Basic Food Hygiene and PIC (person in charge of food safety - training) conducted with endorsement by Dubai Municipality. On top of that, Mai Dubai provides in-house training on cleanliness, PPE (personal protection equipment), HACCP principles, and awards and rewards for good behaviour. 

These efforts are in line with the existing protocols and guidelines put in place by Dubai authorities. The company’s overall initiatives reflect how much importance it attaches to the food safety and wellbeing of its personnel as well as ensuring the hygiene of the production facility.

Mai Dubai’s CEO emphasized that the company is continuously innovating and looking for ways to enhance the quality of its products and services, enhance customer experience and satisfaction and help meet the Dubai Government’s goals to provide a steady supply of safe drinking water to the UAE’s market as well as the international market.

Regardless of the methods used to distribute bottled drinking water to the public, food safety is of paramount importance. It is something that cannot be compromised. Within this context, bottled water manufacturers must ensure that the products they supply to the market comply with the highest quality and food safety standards. At Mai Dubai, this is the organization’s pledge and commitment to the communities it serves.