Pipe dreams become reality

Jonathan Harper, sales manager for Martec, discusses the advantages of product recovery over end of pipe effluent treatment.

End of pipe effluent treatment championed by water treatment companies is a very expensive solution to reducing trade effluent treatment costs. It consumes valuable time in planning, which could be profitably used to increase production. Effluent treatment is expensive to install and operate, and it is not responsive to rapid changes Supermarkets impose on the type and frequency of products suppliers have to provide.

Martec, who specialises in the specification, design and supply of product recovery systems, has shown to manufacturers of food, beverage, drink and toiletry products that they can easily improve their profitability and competitive advantage, with minimum outlay. Product recovery involves reclaiming product left in the pipe at the end of a production or filling run, which would otherwise be washed down the drain.

Martec has taken the old practice of ‘pigging’, or removing line contents using a travelling barrier, refined it for the process industries, and eliminated through design, the drawbacks limiting its use. The result is its Marplug and Product Recovery System.

Net cost savings

Implementing product recovery in preference to end of pipe effluent treatment plants can provide significant net cost savings for a typical batch manufacturer. Over a year these have ranged from £100,000 to in excess of £800,000. Expansion in production can be made without having to consider an increase in effluent treatment capacity or trade effluent charges. Furthermore, payback on product recovery is typically three to six months.

Existing customers that have switched to or now use Martec’s Product Recovery Systems include Premier Foods, Pedigree Masterfoods, The Sauce Company and PZ Cussons. They are finding significant improvements in yields and savings in turnaround times between production and filling runs. Other savings, as reported by an Envirowise Case Study, are not incidental and include effluent treatment charges, water, CIP chemicals, energy and manpower.

Martec uses a proprietary Marplug, which is able to go where conventional pigs cannot. It easily negotiates bends, imperfections in pipes and full-bore openings which stop conventional pigs in their tracks. The Product Recovery System is configured to help production managers concentrate on safely exceeding their production targets. They are very reliable and efficient to operate. The Marplug can be cleaned and serviced off-line while the next batch of product is being transferred.

Profitable compliance

Martec’s Product Recovery System can also be used to help manufacturers to profitably comply with the soon to be enforced European Integrated Pollution, Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (96/61/EC). Food manufacturers with waste streams containing meat fall under part A1, and will be expected to apply for permits between June 2004 to August 2004 with the rest of the food and beverage industry following in January 2005 to March 2005.

IPPC is effectively a permit to operate an industrial plant or factory. It is designed to prevent and reduce pollution at source and deliver a high degree of environmental protection. In order to obtain a permit to operate a food and drink processing plant, the operator will make an application for a permit that demonstrates how they will not cause significant pollution, prevent or minimise waste, minimise risk and prevent accidents, make more efficient utilisation of energy, apply Best Available Technology (BAT), and on closure of site, ensure no residual pollution is left.

All companies covered by IPPC should be made aware of the free advice and guidance available from the Envirowise and Action Energy Programmes, which can be accessed through the Helpline on freephone 0800 585794.

The Envirowise programme looks at waste minimisation and other environmental issues and the Action Energy programme looks at energy efficiency.

Martec works very closely with manufacturers to, first of all, confirm that product can be recovered from existing production and filling lines. This involves an on-site trial to confirm the Marplug negotiates a pipe run and the value of product recovered, together with reduction in effluent treatment costs. On demonstrating the suitability of the line and that economics are viable, Martec works to tailor the design of the Product Recovery System to suit the product and production processes.

Martec’s experienced and qualified technical team is not restricted to providing complete product recovery systems. As recognised experts in the field of product recovery, the company has also helped manufacturers resolve problems with their existing pigging equipment.

In conclusion, before considering an end of pipe solution to waste treatment, it is recommended that manufacturers recover value by avoiding waste, and in doing so, significantly reduce other costs. Your company’s profitability and efficiency can be increased at minimal cost.

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