Optimizing water reuse in meat & poultry processing
For meat and poultry processors, water consumption, water reclamation and wastewater treatment are key functions of plant operations. Meat processing, and poultry processing in particular, are activities of high water usage. For every gallon purchased, the processing plant pays to eliminate fats and proteins from that water.
An average size plant can easily require 1 million to 2 million gallons of water daily that is laden with proteins and fats from meat, fat, blood, skin and feathers, mixed with grit and other inorganic matter. Processors are required to remove the majority of this soluble and particulate material in their wastewater prior to discharge from the plant to achieve compliance with local, state and federal environmental regulations. Treatment of such high-strength organic-content wastewater can present significant challenges to comply with these mandates.
Recent developments in liquid and solids separation for the processing of poultry, pork and red meat have opened the door to more streamlined water reclamation processes that support sustainable processes.
Such technologies as the ultra-precise Micro-Drum Screen and Sanitary Zero-Maintenance Screen from Lyco Manufacturing, not only significantly increase the amount of water that can be reused, but also remove considerable amounts of fats and proteins, reducing biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS) and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) levels from plant water streams, resulting in decreased downstream wastewater treatment costs.
Many meat and poultry facilities have recognized the need to recycle process water. Its use has grown substantially to offset the increased cost of water, minimize wastewater treatment costs, reduce costly municipal wastewater discharge fees, and support corporate sustainability initiatives. Water used for processing may be reused for the same purpose provided measures are taken to reduce physical, chemical and microbiological contamination. The technology, chemistry and processes exist today to feasibly and economically integrate water reuse into any meat and poultry processing operation.