Meat processing companies come in many forms. This client produced products for the sausage-making industry and their effluent comprised wash-water and what was effectively offal.
Our client had a patchy record of compliance with their trade effluent consent. The local water company had had several blockages in the sewer network that had been caused by large quantities of waste meat product entering the drains from our client's factory. The water company wanted to work with the customer to find a solution and we were approached to help.
We carried out a highly detailed audit of the factory and packing areas. It was very noticeable that factory-floor staff made copious use of pressure washers to flush solid waste down the floor drains. A water recycling system recirculated wash-water into a tank in the middle of the processing area. However, there was a drop of about 1.5m between the end of the recirculation pipe and the tank. The turbulence cause by the drop produced a thick, gelatinous, fat-laden foam that was also washed down the floor drains. Machines that were used in processing the offal had little or no equipment for capturing solid waste at source.
Our exhaustive audit report recommended removing all pressure washers and removing solid waste from the floor by sweeping. The recirculation pipework was redesigned to slow down the flow and minimise turbulence and hence foam production. Wheeled vessels with fine screens were installed on the machine outlets to capture more waste material at source. Solid waste was taken away by a local food waste processor for resource recovery.
The result was 36% decrease in water use as a direct result of removing the pressure washers. Trade effluent costs decreased by 48% due to floor-sweeping. Consent compliance was achieved almost instantly. The client had been quoted a high five-figure sum for installing a DAF plant to treat their effluent. The cost was a major worry for the client but our audit helped them to avoid it and achieve their objectives for very little expenditure.
Optimising operations is critical to ensuring you only install treatment processes where you really need them. The client in this case study met their internal goals without the capital expenditure they were expecting. It's only by auditing a production site that you can ensure future treatment or operating procedures are fully optimised.