How Wastewater Recycling Is Changing the World

Freshwater is a precious resource and its scarcity is becoming an increasingly urgent issue with many regions across the world facing freshwater shortages and struggling to meet their water needs. In response to the crisis, wastewater recycling has emerged as a promising solution and the technology behind wastewater treatment plants has continuously evolved to meet the demand caused by increased manufacturing pollution and adverse weather such as flooding. 

By recycling and treating wastewater created by industrial processes, the strain for additional freshwater supply is reduced and availability is increased for communities, animals, and crops. Alongside this, wastewater recycling can make manufacturing processes more self-sustainable as well as eco-friendly – regulations already dictate that all output wastewater must be treated before being released into the environment, so conserving the treated water instead of discarding it means it can be reused for potable and non-potable purposes and additional water inputs can be reduced. 

The Benefits of Wastewater Recycling

Wastewater recycling has many key benefits, including but not limited to environmental, economic, and social benefits. Together, these factors can reduce resource demand and ensure better freshwater availability for years to come.

Environmental Benefits of Wastewater Recycling 

While countries around the world may have different minimum environmental standards for wastewater treatment, policies will always encourage going beyond the minimum and ensuring the highest possible wastewater purification levels to maintain water safety. At LAT Water, the innovative technology behind our LAT Unit achieves a minimum of 80% clean water output, and as high as 95% – far beyond existing wastewater treatment solutions on the market and for less than half the operational costs.

In a wider context, wastewater recycling helps reduce underground pollution and water contamination, and can even improve air quality as harmful gases are removed. This in turn promotes the growth of more healthy crops, provides more food for people and livestock, and improves community quality of life. While wastewater can contain useful minerals, when their abundance is far in excess of normal levels it can stunt plant growth, which is why adequate purification is so vital. 

Alongside this, appropriate wastewater recycling can also provide higher quality natural fertilisers through by-product recovery such as dewatered fertiliser created from digestate which is cheaper than synthetic alternatives and doesn’t contain chemicals which take a long time to break down or that are harmful to the environment.

Economic Benefits of Wastewater Recycling

Having appropriate wastewater treatment and wastewater recycling mechanisms in place can help reduce the doubling up of resources by ensuring clean water is filtered back into processes instead of being discarded. This can reduce operational costs significantly as the system becomes more self-sustaining and less energy is required to continuously subsidise processes with fresh water input. 

This additionally reduces infrastructure and maintenance fees by making the most of local resources – for example, most of the water used in London is recycled from the River Thames and the River Lea. By extension, this also reduces environmental degradation in hotspot areas which can reduce costs for businesses by removing taxes applicable to operating in those high-demand areas. 

Alongside this, adequate wastewater treatment and recycling can provide access to further grants and government schemes for businesses. As eco-friendly initiatives are extremely common, there are many benefits to being fully compliant, and not just to avoid fines! Sustainability objectives are at the forefront of many government discussions, especially ahead of the UK’s target to reach net zero by 2050 – and wastewater recycling plays a role in this process and investing in a modern solution now will be cheaper in the long run.

Social Benefits of Wastewater Recycling

Although often overlooked, the social benefits of wastewater treatment go beyond the environmental and economic benefits listed above. While people play a big role in both of these categories, there are a number of additional reasons why wastewater recycling is so important both in rural areas and large cities and it comes down to our growing population. 

At now over 8 billion people on earth, our towns, cities, and even countryside areas are becoming more densely populated with more commercial and residential buildings being built every year, and this increase is resulting in higher demand for wastewater treatment to ensure all 8+ billion of us can live healthy lives. By treating and recycling water, resources will be more readily available as well as adequately purified. Without the treatment stage, wastewater can carry numerous harmful bacteria and viruses and pollute cities, causing disease to spread rapidly through communities. 

However, with proper purification, wastewater can be a valuable resource as the Toowoomba Water Futures referendum showed. In 2006, residents in Toowoomba, Australia, voted against supplementing their water supply with 25% recycled wastewater which led to strict water supply restrictions for the over 140,000 residents of the area, with activities such as garden irrigation becoming prohibited during periods of drought, particularly during the summer months. As there was no natural water supply nearby, residents relied on water being pumped (uphill) from a neighbouring dam in Brisbane. Calculations later showed that had the residents voted for the recycling scheme, the cost of water provision to the area would have cost taxpayers $100 million AUD less, as well as allowing them to enjoy recreational water use all year round. 

The Challenges of Wastewater Recycling

Despite its many benefits, wastewater recycling also poses several challenges such as a lack of public awareness and acceptance of recycled wastewater (as we saw with the Toowoomba example above), as well as a lack of funding and investment in wastewater treatment and recycling infrastructure. Both of these factors are greatly hindering the adoption of wastewater recycling as well as limiting scalability in places where it’s already being trialled. 

At LAT Water, we are fully transparent about the effectiveness of our wastewater treatment plant and carry out automated 24/7, real-time testing at each LAT Unit site to ensure the quality of the water remains to standard. Advancements in technology over the last few decades especially have made it possible to optimise wastewater treatment and recycling processes beyond previous capacities, and these days it’s possible to monitor and adapt to changes in wastewater composition more efficiently than ever before – making wastewater recycling a safe option. LAT Water additionally uses these technologies to reduce the cost of installing, maintaining, and operating a sustainable wastewater treatment solution on-site, helping promote adoption through the long-term monetary savings that come with investing in a LAT Unit (especially in the current climate with the rising cost of energy as our technology uses less than 50% of the power input required by regular wastewater treatment plants).

The Future of Wastewater Recycling

To address the challenges of wastewater recycling, it is essential to invest in public education to increase awareness and acceptance of recycled wastewater, as well as provide incentives to upgrade existing infrastructure to ensure its long-term scalability and reliability. 

If we can achieve this, in the future, we can expect to see more widespread adoption of wastewater recycling, particularly in regions with water scarcity, which will help improve the quality of life and food availability for communities. Additionally, we can expect to see new and innovative uses for recycled wastewater, and with continued investment and research, wastewater recycling has the potential to transform the way we manage and use water – ensuring a sustainable water supply for generations to come.

How Many Times Can Wastewater Be Recycled?

Indefinitely! One of the reasons for investing in wastewater recycling technology is that water can be recycled and purified without limitations – in fact, the water you drank today was very likely enjoyed by a dinosaur millions of years ago!

Contact The LAT Water Team

Meet us later this month at The World Biogas Expo 2023 at the NEC in Birmingham on the 29th – 30th of March. We’ll be available on both days of the conference at stand D205. 

You can also contact our team on +44 (0)1635 635900 or by emailing info@latwater.com. Download our corporate brochure for more details about wastewater treatment solutions.

Elias Elia
07th Mar 2023