The UK brewing industry uses large amounts of water (in excess of 34million m3/year), with amounts up to 70% being discharged as trade effluent (TE) to the local sewerage system. Unit costs for water supply and trade effluent discharge are expected to continue to rise as water companies invest in the new plant needed to comply with existing EC and UK legislation. In most breweries, the total cost of water supply and trade effluent disposal is about the same as the site’s energy bill. If you add pumping, water treatment and effluent treatment costs, the bill is even higher. Therefore, taking a detailed look at your brewery’s water cycle makes financial sense.
Water and effluent treatment costs are controllable. Brewers investing in a water management programme can produce savings in the range of 20-25% through good housekeeping measures, effective consumption monitoring and low-cost changes to practices and investing in appropriate technologies. Projects with a return on investment (ROI) of two years or less will allow your business to realise additional saving that can be in the region of 10-20%. Performing a water audit is an important first step in identifying areas and activities that can be prioritized for action to reduce water consumption.
Reviewing the volume and strength of the trade effluent your business produces is equally important. Developing an action plan to reduce or minimise the discharge of effluent, for example, with high levels of COD will make a significant contribution to reducing your TE charges. If you already have an effluent treatment system, then having its operation expertly reviewed could also lead to savings.
Reuse technologies have advanced in recent years and these can often offer significant benefits in reducing water consumption and effluent discharges overall. At the same time, opportunities often exist to recover energy from different stages in the brewing process that will contribute to an overall reduction in operating costs.
Ask your team the following questions:
- Has your brewery implemented a water management programme? If not, you could save 20% of your costs through good housekeeping and low-cost measures.
- Check your most recent water bill. Is the volume of water used more than 3.4 times the volume of beer brewed over the same period? If it is, you could do better – other breweries have.
- Check your trade effluent bill. Is the average chemical oxygen demand (COD) of your effluent more than 2000 mg/litre? If it is, you could do better.
We’d be delighted to hear from you if you would like to learn more and explore how the team at Eco~tech Systems can advise and support you with your water and wastewater processes, perform water, wastewater and energy audits and advise on reuse opportunities.