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Innovative, pioneering measures to retrieve river water for the dairy industry

Innovative, pioneering measures to retrieve river water for the dairy industry

September 11, 2023 7:20 pm

Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions has revolutionised the South Asian dairy industry’s water management approach. The company has successfully conserved precious groundwater resources while prioritising environmental sustainability by deploying an MBR-based wastewater treatment plant and a zero-liquid discharge (ZLD) system.

A prominent dairy company in South India emerges as the first dairy player by becoming the first in its industry to recycle 100 percent water, utilising Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions’ MBR technology and Zero Liquid Discharge system at its Mega Plant. This fastest-growing private dairy enterprise has embraced sustainability initiatives, implementing Veolia’s membrane bioreactor (MBR) technology, a High Recovery Wastewater treatment plant, and a Power Driven (MVR) Zero Liquid Discharge system at its Erode-based Mega Plant.

Originating as a premium paneer brand in Tamil Nadu and the southern regions of India, this company has evolved into the sole dairy in the country to convert all procured milk into an array of value-added products, boasting more than 150 stock-keeping units (SKUs) spanning 20 categories. Today, the brand is synonymous with quality dairy products like Curd, Fresh Paneer (cottage cheese), Mozzarella Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Processed Cheese, and Gouda Cheese, apart from other value-added products like cream, butter, ghee, ice cream, curd and other dairy-based Indian sweets.

Over the past four years, it commissioned a wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of 600,000 litres per day and a 60,000 litres per day Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) plant in collaboration with Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions. This dairy firm has played a crucial role in sustaining the local environment and community. Approximately 600,000 litres of river water have been saved from being discharged into the local groundwater, safeguarding the livelihoods of nearby villagers. Moreover, by employing the MBR Wastewater Recycle Plant, freshwater consumption has been curtailed, indirectly benefiting around 10,000 households in the Erode region with uninterrupted access to clean water.

Prioritising sustainability
The decision to adopt Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions’ MBR technology was largely driven by the dairy company’s commitment to sustainability. It is opting for Veolia’s MVR technology for the Zero Liquid Discharge system, which uses power instead of conventional steam evaporators. This aligns with the company’s endeavour to minimise its carbon footprint and reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Gopal Madabhushi, Senior Vice President, Veolia WTS, South Asia, said, “Unlike its peers that recycle roughly 30 -40 percent of wastewater and discharge the rest of it into the adjoining ecosystem, the customer has prioritised sustainability. This meant bearing an additional burden over and above the project cost. The customer has continued to consider such costs as an investment into sustainability. It further selected Veolia WTS for treating an additional 1.2 MLD ( 12,00,000 litres per day) of wastewater, wherein approx. 10,00,000 litres per day of water will be recycled and reused for utility operation. The plant is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.”

In its groundwater resource assessment of 34 units in the Erode district of Tamil Nadu, the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) categorised 11 as over-exploited and semi-critical. At the same time, two were considered critical, with the rest found safe. Amid such critical water levels, this enterprise has embarked on a mission to conserve this precious resource.

In conjunction with its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, the company has installed a 30 KW Solar Power Plant, ensuring continuous water supply to local homes and agricultural fields. The power grid is connected to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGENCO). As an indirect benefit, water will be supplied uninterrupted, as there will be no power cut-off. Home and agricultural fields will receive water continuously. This will benefit nearly 10,000 villagers in Tudapathi Panchayat District. A separate Solar Power Plant is commissioned to cater for the entire manufacturing facility, making it a 100 percent Green power/ Energy company.

On-the-go learning and innovation
This initiative has also spurred innovation within the company, underscoring its commitment to adopting cutting-edge technologies throughout its value chain. This commitment is evident in the decision to recycle 100 percent of its wastewater through Veolia’s Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) plant.

Looking ahead, sustainability remains paramount as the company plans to expand its operations. By partnering with Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions, this dairy leader sets an example for other industry players to tackle water challenges with sustainable technological solutions to avoid the discharge of treated water in the surrounding ecosystem. In a way, it is prioritising long-term environmental goals over short-term costs.

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