Many food and beverage companies are looking into water reuse options and zero liquid discharge. Why is this important? Water is a limited commodity, with the scarcity of clean water being a real issue. Food and beverage clients face changing environmental regulations and consumer demands, making water reuse and zero liquid discharge an attractive wastewater method. Many companies have zero liquid discharge methods already in place. Subsets of the food and beverage industry, such as the packaging industry, are not as quick to adapt due to commercial and technical hurdles for water reuse programs.
To the public, wastewater in the food and beverage industry is not well-known. In the United States, the Food and Beverage industry comes in third for using the most water out of all industries (1.4 billion liters of wastewater annually), with chemical processing and refining in first and second place.
So, what is zero liquid discharge? The idea behind zero liquid discharge is to recover water from wastewater. This process keeps all the water on-site, with wastewater reuse processes occurring at the facilities. As with any approach, there is not a one size fits all method. Processes are customized to the facility while considering several factors such as budget, wastewater goals, wastewater composition, etc. To keep costs and technologies minimal, companies often resort to other water reuse methods. Minimal liquid discharge only recovers 70-90% of the water at a much more affordable price. Several companies shy away from zero liquid discharge due to the price tag for upgrading technology and wastewater applications.
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