Food processing

Achieve Water Authority compliance with automated wastewater treatment for food processing

Achieve Water Authority compliance with automated wastewater treatment for food processing

Food processors in the United States must adhere to EPA wastewater effluent requirements as well as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and state or municipal regulations. Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA has identified 65 pollutants and classes of pollutants as “toxic pollutants”, of which 126 specific substances have been designated “priority” toxic pollutants.

Wastewater generated from food processing operations, however, can contain large amounts of suspended and dissolved solids, inorganic, nitrogenous organic, organic carbon, as well as nutrients. It may also have high biochemical and chemical oxygen requirements. Therefore, this wastewater must be treated so that it does not alter the receiving water or disturb the public treatment works (POTW) when it is discharged into the sewers.

The challenge is complicated by the wide range of processed food products, which can range from grains, sugar, confectionery, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, fats and oils, meat and poultry, as well as drinks and brewing. Thus, different types of wastewater contamination may require different strategies to remove the contamination.

For many food processors, this may require installing a wastewater treatment system that effectively separates contaminants from the water so that it can be legally disposed of.

However, traditional wastewater treatment systems can be complex, often requiring multiple steps, a variety of chemicals, and a considerable amount of labor. Even when the process is supposed to be automated, too often a technician still has to monitor the equipment in person. This usually requires monitoring the mixing and separation, adding chemicals, and other tasks necessary to keep the process moving. Even then, the produced water may still fall below prescribed requirements.

While paying to transport wastewater from food processing is also an option, it is extremely expensive. On the other hand, it is much more cost effective to treat wastewater at its source, so that the treated effluent can be legally disposed of. Additionally, when the treated sludge can pass a Toxicity Characteristics Leaching Procedure (TCLP) test, it can be disposed of as non-hazardous waste at a local landfill.

Fortunately, complying with the EPA and local wastewater regulations just got a lot easier with more fully automated wastewater treatment systems. Such systems not only reliably meet wastewater regulatory requirements, but also dramatically reduce treatment, labor and disposal costs when the appropriate Cleartreat release agents are also used.

Automated and cost-effective wastewater treatment

Unlike labor-intensive multistage processes, automated wastewater treatment can help streamline production, typically with a single-stage process, while reducing costs at food processing sites. .

An automated wastewater treatment system can eliminate the need to monitor equipment in person while complying with EPA and local requirements. Such automated systems separate suspended solids, emulsified petroleum, and heavy metals, and encapsulate contaminants, producing an easily dried sludge in minutes, according to food industry consultants at Sabo Industrial Corp., a manufacturer, distributor. and integrator based in New York. industrial waste treatment equipment and solutions, including batch and fully automated systems, Cleartreat release agents, bag filters and accessories.

The water is generally then separated using a drying table or bag filters before being discharged on the ground, in the sewer networks or even filtered to be reused as process water. Other options for dewatering include the use of a filter press or a rotary drum vacuum. The resulting solids are not leachable and are considered nonhazardous, so they will pass all required tests.

These systems are available as manual batch, semi-automatic, automatic processors and can be designed as a closed loop system for water reuse or to provide legally discharged effluent. A new, fully customized system is not always necessary. In many cases, it can be faster and more cost effective to add or modify a facility’s existing wastewater treatment systems when possible.

However, since each wastewater stream is unique to its application, each wastewater treatment solution must be specifically tailored. The first step in evaluating the potential savings and effectiveness of a new system is to sample the wastewater to determine its chemical composition, followed by a comprehensive review of the requirements of the local water authorities, according to the Sabo Industrial agribusiness consultants.

The volume of wastewater that will be treated is also analyzed, in order to determine whether a batch processing unit or a flow system is required. Other considerations include size restrictions, so that the system adapts to the available footprint of the food processing facility.

Separating agents

Despite all the advances in the automation of wastewater treatment equipment, such a system requires effective separation agents that agglomerate with the solids in the wastewater so that the solids can be separated safely and efficiently.

Due to the importance of release agents for wastewater treatment, Sabo Industrial uses a special type of bentonite clay in a line of wastewater treatment chemicals called ClearTreat. This line of wastewater treatment chemicals are formulated to promote flocculation, agglomeration and removal of suspended solids, as well as to break up oil and water emulsion and remove heavy metals.

Bentonite has a large specific surface area with a net negative charge which makes it a particularly effective adsorbent and ion exchange for wastewater treatment applications to remove organic pollutants, nutrients, heavy metals, etc. As such, bentonite is essential for effectively encapsulating materials. This can usually be done in a single processing step, which reduces processing and disposal costs.

In contrast, polymer products do not encapsulate toxins, so systems that use this type of release agent are more prone to allowing waste to escape over time or upon agitation. additional.

Today’s automated systems along with Cleartreat separating agents can provide food processors with simple and cost-effective wastewater treatment to stay compliant with EPA as well as state and local ordinances. While these systems come at a cost, they don’t require a lot of attention and can easily be more economical than paying fines or transporting.

For more information, call 845-562-5751; Fax: 845-562-5909; e-mail: [email protected]; visit the website or write to Sabo Industrial at 2 Little Britain Road Newburgh, NY, 12550.

About the Author


Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California. He writes on health, business, technology and education issues, and has an MA in English from CSU Dominguez Hills.


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