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Extreme Water Reuse: Recycling in a Food Products Industry

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How far can you take the water reuse idea? And how far would you dare if you were in the food grade products industry? Coca Cola and NURRC are prepared to take it almost all the way.

In 2007, Coca Cola joined forces with United Resource Recovery Corporation in Spartanburg, South Carolina as NURRC, to develop NSF–certified, food-grade plastic material from recycled PET jars and bottles. The new venture will expand the plant by more than 10 times its capacity.

The current process at NURRC provides FDA and NSF quality plastic for recycling into bottles, but generates high strength wastewater. The problem with expansion of the plant is that the wastewater impact on the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District would be excessive.

To resolve the concerns about discharge, and in keeping with Coca-Cola's goal to provide a zero water footprint for its production, NURRC decided to move toward total recycle of treated water instead of increasing the wastewater discharge. This is tricky, because everything done for the food products industry must take into account product quality, product safety and public health.

A number of options were investigated for water conservation and full reuse, which will allow the plant to increase its production to 50 million kilograms (kg) of recycled plastic annually with no additional water use. The planned treatment processes will include ultra-filtration membranes and reverse osmosis, concentrating the high BOD wastewater for chemical precipitation. The recycled water will be used in almost all plant processes and cooling water towers, requiring no additional potable water use, while providing full protection of the food grade plastic product.

Keywords: Membranes; Water Conservation; Water Reuse

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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