Membrane expense cited for PepsiCo’s downgrading of water reuse

Employing membrane technologies to reuse industrial wastewater is becoming more common yet a global food and beverage manufacturer has claimed this is an expensive and lengthy process...

Employing membrane technologies to reuse industrial wastewater is becoming more common yet a global food and beverage manufacturer has claimed this is an expensive and lengthy process.

PepsiCo was recently awarded the Stockholm Industry Water Award for conserving 16 billion litres of water in 2011. The company’s Casa Grande crisp production facility in Arizona was recognised for reusing 80% of the process water through filtration and purification (see Industrial WaterWorld article).

Speaking to Water & Wastewater International magazine (WWi), Liese Dallbauman, director of water stewardship for PepsiCo, said however that the water reuse process was “capital intensive and it’s not a cheap thing to do, or fast to build up the process”.

On the topic of the membrane set up, Dallbauman said added: … I know the amount of testing that has to be done in support of the capital and the actual purchase, install, test and validate is time consuming and it’s an investment.”

At Casa Grande water reuse is one of several measures from PepsiCo to improve the environmental credentials of the facility. The process works whereby following biological treatment, water is passed through ultrafiltration modules, then reverse osmosis membranes and finally a polishing step before being recirculated around the plant.

The director of water stewardship said that water reuse is “not something we would do as a first or even second step. We would do it in cases where it makes financial sense where there’s a water shortage or water stress is sufficiently high”.

PepsiCo has the stated goal of reducing water usage by 20% by 2015, from a baseline set in 2006. The firm has a large global footprint producing a wide range of food and beverages, including not only Pepsi but Gatorade, Tropicana fruit juices, Quaker cereals and Frito Lay snacks.

Across its entire operations, PepsiCo claimed it is using two litres of water for every litre of product produced. This includes water for ingredients, as well as cleaning, heating and cooling in industrial processes.

Dallbauman heads up the company’s Recon Water programme, set up to help conserve water. She said that as PepsiCo builds and refurbishes facilities, her intention is to set up facilities so they can achieve a “local reuse” rather than “having something too far away for reuse to be practical”.

As reported by WWi magazine, the market for water and wastewater treatment technologies in food and beverage production is expected to grow between 2011-2020 at the compound annual growth rate of 5.5%, reaching US$4.80 billion (read WWi story).

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- The full interview with PepsiCo’s Liese Dallbauman will appear in the October-November issue of WWi magazine. For a free copy of the magazine, sign up here.

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