It can be common to think that wastewater is only an issue in certain industries that have a reputation for high environmental impact. One may be tempted to assume that the industry in which they work doesn’t produce any at all, and therefore has no requirement for wastewater treatment. But this is not always the case. This type of water is the by-product of a number of industries – wherever commercial products are produced with water, it will nearly always require treatment before it can be disposed of. It’s of fundamental importance to properly carry out wastewater treatment, not just for your organisation’s bottom line, but for the environment. Discharging impure water that has been used in the manufacturing process back into the environment can be devastating for animal, plant and human life. Below are some of the industries that most commonly produce this type of waste. It might seem a little counterintuitive that the food industry would produce a lot of harmful waste, but it is exactly because the food needs to be safe and suitable for human consumption that this is so. Wastewater treatment in the food industry is likely to remove by-products of the cannoning and sterilising process, as well as from the cleaning of pesticides. Wastewater treatment in the power industry tends to focus on the water that has been used to cool down coal or nuclear power plants. Especially in the case of coal, this water can be contaminated with ash and heavy metals that can have a severe impact on the soil if discharged before properly cleaned. As most people would expect, industrial companies that are involved in heavy manufacturing produce a lot of waste. The water they use will often be contaminated with nitrogen, phosphates, bacteria and harsh chemicals. You’ll also find things like heavy metals (copper and zinc for example) and plastic that doesn’t biodegrade. Treatment of effluent is perhaps more important in this sector than anywhere else. Much of the waste that comes from a facility like a hospital will be kept away from the site itself, such is the severity of the water produced. Not only are there highly dangerous pharmaceuticals involved, but biological medical waste can also be extremely dangerous and unpleasant. Wastewater treatment in the healthcare industry isn’t something that people would necessarily have thought about, but it is highly important for a healthy water system. It may not be on as large a scale as in the power or manufacturing industry, but the farming industry is responsible for a large amount of contaminated water. Fertiliser and biological matter can easily have terrible consequences if not properly treated. Although the industry in which you work might not be one of those listed above, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t considerable wastewater treatment requirements in other sectors and industries. With an important emphasis being put on environmental sustainability – as well as the costs associated with better effective cleaning – wastewater treatment is something that people should be looking at no matter what sector they work in. Sean Clifford is an advisor at AllWater Technologies Ltd, a wholly independent company providing consultation and water treatment equipment, including wastewater treatment plant and reverse osmosis water systems. Bringing together a host of experience and specialist knowledge, the company is committed to building and maintaining long-term relationships and creating maximum value and benefit for their customers.
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