Challenges & Opportunities For Wastewater Recycling In The Food & Beverage Industry

The food and beverage industry plays a vital role in our daily lives and has a highly complex supply chain involving countless other businesses such as farmers, nutrition experts, and even pharmaceutical companies. As such, the production processes across the food and beverage industry can generate a significant amount of wastewater with varying flow rates and a vast range of particles from solids, to liquids, and gases, as well as organic matter. Despite these challenges, there are numerous opportunities for wastewater recycling and better management of waste, paving the way for a more sustainable future.

Challenges of Wastewater Management in the Food and Beverage Industry

Complex Composition of Wastewater

We’ve previously discussed the different types of wastewater that different industries produce and the toxicity levels associated with each, but what sets the food and beverage industry apart is the sheer volumes of potentially reusable nutrients as well as the diverse range of organic compounds present in wastewater. Substances such as sugars, fats, proteins, and other byproducts including non-edible animal parts, can create a breeding ground for bacteria which can cause further pollution and disease. Due to this, there is a greater urgency for fast and adequate treatment of wastewater, as well as tighter regulations relating to disposal. At LAT Water, we can engineer several of our patented LAT Unit wastewater treatment plants to work together to ensure treatment capacity is maximised and hygiene is maintained in and around your facilities. 

Cost and Resource Constraints

With the rising cost of living, costs of utilities such as electricity are at an all-time high – meaning many food and beverage companies need to pass on some of the costs to consumers to enable them to meet their own overheads. Reducing companies’ operational costs and lowering electrical usage is a top priority for our team at LAT Water as we understand the difficulties faced by many companies through our work with our long-standing clients. In one case study, we lowered our client’s energy consumption by 70% –  allowing them to redistribute much-needed resources to other parts of their business. We’ve additionally worked with other parts of the supply chain to recover and recycle nutrients from wastewater, allowing businesses to supplement their income by selling dewatered fertilisers or animal feed to farmers. This has allowed farmers to reduce their spend on land cultivation and reduce their prices, resulting in more end-consumer sales. Additionally, our method of nutrient recycling and treated water reuse has reduced our clients’ reliance on freshwater resources, minimising water dependency in highly populated areas prone to water scarcity and reducing environmental impact. 

Opportunities for Wastewater Recycling in the Food and Beverage Industry

Advancing Sustainable Water Management

When we talk about sustainability in wastewater management, there are many examples that might be applicable to individual companies, however, two of the key universally-applicable areas to look at are: 

  • Reducing reliance on new freshwater resources by treating and reusing water (this can be as part of your main processes or even for the cooling system across your facilities) 
  • Minimising transportation costs – moving waste off-site can be very expensive, so keeping more of the treatment process on-site can help reduce your carbon footprint and make your operations more eco-friendly 

Implementing sustainable water management practices across your business can lead to substantial cost savings as well as contribute positively to your company’s image and corporate social responsibilities. Demonstrating your commitment to good environmental practices can also make you eligible for more awards and grants, helping elevate your brand and securing extra funding

Creating Closed-Loop Systems

In recent years, closed-loop systems (which involve on-site treatment and reuse of wastewater) have begun to gain traction across the food and beverage industry as they can greatly reduce operational costs, especially at larger facilities. By implementing this approach, businesses can create a self-sustaining water management system whereby wastewater is treated and separated so clean water can be reused within the production processes and waste can be treated further to create useful byproducts. Due to this, closed-loop systems not only promote resource efficiency but also improve internal processes, resulting in cost savings and improved productivity. (Learn more about the benefits of closed-loop systems in the research paper, “Closed-loop organic waste management systems for family farmers in Brazil,” by authors from the Federal University of Goiás and University College London.)

Enabling Nutrient Recovery

One of the key research areas for our team at LAT Water is effective nutrient recovery. Wastewater contains valuable resources that can be recovered and repurposed across the supply chain to create value and conserve resources. Nutrient recovery technologies work by extracting nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater and converting them into usable forms as well as (in some cases) reducing their concentration or abundance within an end-product such as fertiliser. By turning wastewater into a resource, businesses can create additional revenue streams whilst simultaneously reducing their environmental impact.

Contact The LAT Water Team

If you’re looking for a new industrial wastewater treatment provider, contact our team on +44 (0)1635 635900 or by emailing Download our corporate brochure for more details about our sustainable wastewater treatment solutions and check out the rest of our blog for more insights into the work that we do.

Elias Elia
25th Jul 2023