Wastewater treatment industry driven by sustainability needs of food and beverage companies

By Editor


Wastewater treatment industry driven by sustainability needs of food and beverage companies

Greentech Lead America: The drive toward sustainability
by food and beverage processing plants is driving the market for water and
wastewater treatment equipment, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The market for water and wastewater treatment equipment
earned revenues of $288.7 million in 2011 and estimates this to
reach $336.2 million in 2017, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Food processing plants are looking to reduce their water
footprints, wastewater discharge, and wastewater treatment costs.

Companies like Coca Cola have committed to replenish the
water used in its beverages and their production by 2020.  The company
targets to improve water efficiency by 20 percent by 2012. Recently the company
signed a global clean water partnership with DEKA R&D to provide clean
water to communities in rural parts of Latin America and Africa. The company
also plans to expand the effort to also install thousands of units to be
operated and maintained annually in communities in India, the Middle East and

Food and beverage companies are facing pressure from
media and environmental groups for safe disposal of solid wastes. Consumer
awareness of resource conservation has forced companies like Coca Cola take
proactive measures to protect natural resources to prevent backlash from
community. In March 2004, local officials in Kerala shut down a $16
million Coke bottling plant blamed for causing drastic decline in both quantity
and quality of water available to local farmers and villagers.

“Rising wastewater surcharges, increasing utility
costs, and expanding consumer demand for green products are some of the factors
that are driving end-users to pursue on-site anaerobic treatment and energy
recovery,” said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Ankur
Jajoo. “While lower equipment prices stoke competition among treatment
companies, the growing influence of environmental regulations will create
significant opportunities for equipment providers.”

The wastewater from food and beverage plants normally
contains only a few hazardous and persistent compounds regulated under the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Toxic Release Inventory (TRI)

Food processors are imposed fines if their discharged
wastewater exceeds permitted levels of toxicity.  With the exception of
some toxic cleaning products, the wastewater generated is organic and can be
treated by conventional biological technologies.

However, a lack of regulatory insight has allowed plant
processors to pay wastewater surcharges rather than implement treatment
solutions. Even though large food and beverage manufacturing plants do implement
technologies, many medium to small food processors prefer to pay the surcharge
rather than install expensive solutions.

According to Frost & Sullivan, low-cost solutions
that are far more cost effective to implement and maintain will help drive
installation of treatment equipment. It will also be important to offer a
solution that is technologically advanced and yet, can be retrofitted in
existing processing facilities.

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