A process of waste elimination

Fred McArthur, director of United Utilities Industrial, looks at waste management in the food processing industry.

Today, waste is a complex issue. Millions of tonnes of it are produced across the UK each year - all with the potential to damage our environment.

With environmental regulations for industry and its treatment of water and wastewater becoming ever more complex, companies must now identify their major environmental impacts and take action to minimise them.

Such actions may include building and operating an on-site waste management plant, and arranging for wastes that cannot be treated by the plant to be carried off site and safely disposed of.

Duty of care
Immediate issues such as duty of care and compliance may take precedence over forward planning and even budgeting - potentially turning the management of a company's waste into a time-consuming and expensive business.

This is why many companies are now outsourcing their waste management - either in whole or in part - and placing it in the hands of a specialist organisation that is abreast of the latest technological and legislative developments.

Outsourcing takes away the headache of managing the waste management process - freeing up time for clients to concentrate on core business - and it saves money.

Specialist firms can often design, install and maintain plant that is more cost-effective than off-site treatment. And even where a proportion of waste needs to be handled elsewhere, the dedicated waste management expert has the resources to secure the best deal with the most reliable operator - thus ensuring that duty of care is not compromised for savings.

One company that has gone down the outsourcing route with United Utilities is Hazlewood Sauces and Pickles, one of Europe's leading manufacturers of convenience foods. The company is part of the Greencore Group, and supplies the UK's major supermarkets and retailers with own-brand foods including sauces, pickles and dressings.

Hazlewood has recently extended an existing contract with United Utilities Industrial, who will now invest £2.4 million in a turnkey project to design, build and operate an extension to the waste management plant at Hazlewood's manufacturing centre at Selby, North Yorkshire.

Whole life cost
Consultancy with ACWa Services concluded that an anaerobic treatment process would provide the most effective whole life cost, and this would be incorporated into the operation, as well as a new influent specification of 12 tonnes per day COD capacity.

"The recent completion of a new bottling hall for our specialist dressings, together with expansion of our ongoing cooking sauce business, has created additional pressures in respect of the effluent burden from the site. United Utilities is managing this need," says Paul Chapman, site operations director for Hazlewood Selby.

Hazlewood's predicted business growth will lead to a 30 per cent increase in flow and load through its Selby facility. The two companies will now work together to ensure that the plant will be capable of fully treating the increase and meeting the revised discharge consent expected in August 2003.

United Utilities Industrial has a number of long-term partnerships with bulk water users and wastewater producers, including household names such as Heinz.

Heinz Frozen and Chilled Foods Division has an established factory at Westwick in East Anglia, where many household brand named potato products are prepared.

As part of Heinz's on-going environmental policy, the existing wastewater treatment plant was targeted as an area that needed upgrading. Heinz saw that the reduction of the phosphate level in its wastewater would be an important step. The company also wanted to optimise the use of the on-site plant.

The solution was to upgrade the existing on-site wastewater. United Utilities designed a phosphate removal system that retrofits into the existing wastewater treatment plant and reduces the phosphate load in the effluent by more than 95 per cent.

In addition to this enhancement of the plant, Heinz signed a full purchase, upgrade, operate contract with United Utilities for ten years, ensuring the plant has continuing compliance, even following production increases at the factory.



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