18 August 2023 — The expected increase in production and flow characteristics of milk and dairy ingredients has raised global concerns regarding dairy wastewater (DWW) management. We spoke with DuPont about the critical issues plaguing dairy processors and its water technology, which helped Arla Foods achieve sphericity on its whey concentrate line in Denmark.

“The true scale of the challenge is not understood currently due to a lack of country-level data; However, it is recognized that improved wastewater treatment is critical to increasing the environmental footprint of the dairy industry,” says Yolanda Cuenca, global dairy technical leader at DuPont Water Solutions.

“Worldwide, dairy processors remove significant amounts of water through membrane or evaporative processes, with individual sites often discharging thousands of cubic meters of wastewater each week.”

She tells us that the content of wastewater varies according to the mix of dairy products being produced and the processes involved and that it typically consists of organic matter including “amino acids and lactose.”

A woman in a white dress was sitting on a bench and smiling.Yolanda Cuenca, global dairy technology leader at DuPont Water Solutions. ,Image credit: DuPont,a global concern
According to the United Nations World Water Development Report, 80% of global wastewater produced is released into the environment without adequate treatment.

The dairy industry consumes large amounts of process water to maintain standards of sanitation and hygiene, generating highly contaminated wastewater streams. This makes “wastewater management” one of the major environmental challenges in the region.

Cuenca says that high levels of COD (chemical oxygen demand) and BOD (biological oxygen demand) often mean “regulatory challenges” when considering strategies for wastewater disposal.

The measured concentration of wastewater may vary among different dairy manufacturing sites due to the “mix of dairy products” produced at each location. The type of processing methods used also has an impact.

Dealing With Inadequate Awareness
Knowledge is needed on the amount of DWW produced in different countries, current legislation, costs of available management practices and future challenges to achieve sustainable dairy wastewater management.

“Existing laws and regulations around DWW can be complex and vary across different jurisdictions. Dairy industries may find it challenging to navigate through the legal requirements, resulting in insufficient awareness,” Cuenca underlined.

Inadequate understanding of the “costs of existing management practices” and “future challenges” to achieve sustainable DWW management lead dairy industries to focus primarily on their “core”.Workers in blue uniforms test membranes in a laboratory.Membranes tested by members of the DuPont Water Solutions team. ,Image credit: DuPont,e operations, such as milk production and processing.

She stresses on the role of the government in improving the situation.

“Governments can raise awareness of local legislation through education and outreach programmes, organizing workshops, seminars and training sessions.”

These programs must explain the “requirements, compliance measures and potential benefits” of complying with wastewater regulations.

“Online resource platforms” can also be a way of disseminating information.

She adds, “Incentive and assistance programs help comply with DWW regulations to motivate businesses to prioritize and invest in wastewater management practices.”

Sphericity in whey concentration line
Dairy producers face difficulties in safely discharging wastewater after processing milk.

Cuenca told us that Arla Foods faced “regulatory challenges” for wastewater management because the wastewater coming out of the factory was biologically rich.

“Every week, Arla Food’s facility in Denmark was discharging 1,000m3 of wastewater generated during the production of 1,450 mozzarella and cheese whey CODs that can range from 50,000-80,000 mg/l.”

A female lab worker in a white coat is testing membranes.DuPont’s membrane treatment enabled Arla Foods to achieve “100% wastewater reuse” at its factory. ,Image credit: DuPont,For Arla, this meant that treatment was needed “before discharge” to avoid adverse environmental effects.

“Sending wastewater for external treatment was becoming increasingly costly and Arla Foods needed a solution that was energy-efficient and required a minimal footprint,” she says.

with the opening of the company new dairy plant To meet global consumer demands, it becomes essential to handle your wastewater efficiently.

DuPont’s membrane treatment enabled Arla Foods to achieve “100% wastewater reuse” in its factory and helped a dairy producer achieve “circularity” on its whey concentrate line in Denmark.

Cuenca informs, “DuPont HyperShell elements provide considerable energy savings, typically up to 30% and their spiral-bound construction means they provide a high surface area, reducing the process footprint.”

Tetra Pak acts as a “system provider” for Arla, thereby improving the efficiency, quality and safety of dairy processing and production. Additionally, DuPont is its membrane technology supplier, providing “technical expertise” and supporting the wastewater reuse project.

in a recent conversation food stuff first, Tetra pack To deal with the intensive use of water in the cheese manufacturing sector, “Innovative Water Recycling Technology” was brought forward.

upcycling with cost savings
With a focus on climate change and sustainability, food processors are coming forward to recycle and recycle resources for a better future.

The dairy plant for Arla represents a “multi-technology” membrane system, using reverse osmosis, nanofiltration and an RO-polisher to achieve a “zero discharge” process.

“DuPont membranes allow dairy processors to adopt a circular economy, turning potential waste streams into valuable by-products and allowing wastewater to be recovered and reused,” says Cuenca.DuPont Membrane allows dairy processors to embrace the circular economy.Image credit: DuPont,

“DuPont’s multi-tech solution, using the Filmtec HyperShell RO-8038/30 and NF-8038/30 reverse osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration membranes (NF), concentrates 65 tons of whey per hour, producing 18 tons of concentrated product (23.5%) is produced. total concrete).

NF permeate and RO polisher retentate is “recycled” into the feed tank for reuse in various activities such as cleaning and cooling.

She further adds, “The remaining 47 tonnes of water is treated using Filmtek Hypershell RO-390 membranes and UV light to achieve COD values ​​below 25 mg/l, allowing it to be reused as clean water. can be done.”

Adoption of “water circularity” has improved the sustainability of operations, while generating cost savings of approximately US$113,500 annually for Arla.

Recently Arla Foods told food stuff first Whey ingredients are considered the best upcyclingWith the ability to create a range of high-value products in areas including sports nutrition, food functionality, early life nutrition and medical nutrition.

Cuenca emphasizes that “reusing” treated wastewater as process water, rinse water, CIP (clean in place), boiler feed or diafiltration water “reduces a plant’s dependence on an external water supply.” becomes”, cutting down on the sourcing of water and the operational costs involved in the former. treatment procedures.

Upcycling is making waves in the food sector, even making inroads into plant-based food and drink Cairn Tech Offering their own non-dairy beverages and plant-based yogurt made from apricot seeds.

by Insha Naureen

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