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Plant-based chemicals: Transforming wastewater treatment for a sustainable tomorrow

Wastewater treatment stands as a critical process safeguarding our environment and preserving precious water resources.

By Inshan Sheriff, National Hydrex Manager (Australia), Veolia Water Technologies

However, the conventional methods employed in this crucial practice often involve chemicals that pose substantial risks to both ecosystems and human health. In response to this challenge, the paradigm shift towards eco-friendly and organic chemistry is gaining traction, offering a transformative solution. This shift is exemplified by innovative chemical alternatives that promise to revolutionise wastewater treatment processes.

The Need for Organic Chemicals in Wastewater Treatment

The concept of “organic chemicals” in the context of wastewater treatment signifies a departure from conventional practices towards more sustainable alternatives. These plant-based coagulants, designed to minimise their impact on the environment, represent a progressive approach to water treatment. Biodegradability, low toxicity, and resource efficiency are key attributes that set plant-based coagulants apart. These substances are engineered to significantly reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous metallic elements in wastewater treatment processes, providing a promising avenue towards a more sustainable future.

Traditional methods of wastewater treatment face escalating challenges, including the sheer volume of wastewater generated, the release of increasingly complex pollutants into the environment, and the strain on aging infrastructure. Continuing reliance on conventional wastewater treatment methods would only exacerbate these challenges. Beyond operational inefficiencies, traditional approaches with the use of metal-based coagulants pose inherent risks for both the environment and plant operators due to the toxic nature of these metal salts. The adoption of organic chemicals is not just an option; it’s a necessity to responsibly address these environmental and health repercussions.

Advantages of Using Organic Chemicals in Wastewater Treatment

The incorporation of organic chemicals yield a myriad of benefits, apart from just increasing operational efficiency and cost reduction. One of the most significant advantages lies in their ability to reduce the environmental footprint. Unlike traditional chemicals, these sustainable alternatives are designed to biodegrade efficiently, thus minimising their impact on ecosystems.

Furthermore, they prioritise the safety of plant operators by reducing the risks associated with conventional chemical usage in wastewater treatment, owing to their intrinsically non-toxic nature and the production of fewer harmful by-products. The heightened efficiency in wastewater treatment achieved through the adoption of organic chemicals not only improves treatment outcomes but also concurrently reduces the generation of sludge. With the volume of sludge greatly reduced, the result is significant savings in transportation costs and lower carbon emissions. This streamlining of the treatment process enhances resource utilisation efficiency, minimises waste generation, optimises operational costs, and contributes to the overall sustainability of wastewater treatment facilities.

The Quest for Ecological Transformation

In the pursuit of sustainable wastewater treatment processes, Veolia Water Technologies stands at the forefront, offering a suite of sustainable and efficient water and wastewater management solutions. Central to Veolia’s commitment towards this mission, the seamless integration of organic chemicals into the wastewater treatment process exemplifies the company’s dedication to providing environmentally friendly alternatives.

Veolia’s Hydrex® plant-based coagulants, derived from plant-based sources, bring unique advantages, including enhanced biodegradability and reduced ecological impact. Free from metal salts, the successful integration of these coagulants in diverse industrial settings showcases their versatility and effectiveness in contributing to a more sustainable and resilient future.

An example of how the Hydrex organic water treatment chemicals can support businesses in implementing eco-friendly wastewater treatment practices involves a food and beverage facility in the United Kingdom.

Each day, the facility processed 75 tonnes of vegetal and animal raw materials, with an effluent treatment plant capacity of 250-300 m³ per day. The F&B manufacturer adopted Veolia’s Hydrex plant-based coagulants in a bid to improve the sustainability of their operation.

The results were remarkable:

Usage of chemicals — 50 per cent reduction, leading to savings of €14,000 per year.

Sludge Production — 50 per cent  decrease in volume.

Labour — 50 per cent  reduction for the Effluent Treatment Plant.

Trade Effluent Charges (MODGEN) — 20.5% decrease.

This F&B manufacturer’s experience with these plant-based coagulants showcases the tangible benefits of adopting sustainable chemical innovations, emphasising cost-savings, reduced environmental impact, and increased operational efficiency.

Sowing the Seeds for a Sustainable Tomorrow

As we navigate this transformative journey, businesses are presented with a unique opportunity to actively contribute to environmental preservation and cultivate a more sustainable and resilient future. Organic chemicals play a crucial role in revolutionising and modernising current wastewater treatment processes. From understanding the conceptual shift towards plant-based coagulants to recognising the urgent need for their adoption in wastewater treatment, the path to a sustainable solution is clear.

Businesses must urgently embark on their responsible wastewater treatment journey. Incorporating plant-based coagulants in their wastewater treatment processes will allow companies to strategically realign their operations with sustainability goals, while playing a significant role in the broader narrative of environmental consciousness.

At Veolia, we are committed to enabling companies to achieve both their performance and sustainability goals without compromise. We pledge to provide you with a peace of mind, ensuring that your business and communities are not only safeguarded but also operate with utmost efficiency and resilience. Together, let us protect, preserve, and reuse resources with care, ensuring that our actions today lay the foundation for a sustainable and resilient future. Let us forge a path towards a future where every ripple of sustainability extends far beyond, creating waves of positive impact for generations to come.

Find out how Veolia can help you to do your part for ecological transformation today by visiting Hydrex® plant-based coagulants.

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