Waste waters from cheese making always need treatment as the pollutant loads are particularly high and variable and the fluctuations in flow generate many difficulties for the treatment of effluents. The problems are amplified by the aggressive products used for the washing and disinfection of production lines. Currently no process that can solve these problems exists on the market. Traditional processes proposed by the large operators do not provide solutions technically and financially acceptable to small and medium sized companies active in the cheese making sector. Current treatment processes need large scale expensive plant which do not operate well when pollutant loads vary.
This project used a process developed by two SME's (one from Luxembourg and the other from Austria) and commercialised in their own countries. The process (2 stage activated sludge with specific recirculation of primary and secondary sludges) promoted Euroleaders 94 (DG XVI) and showed exceptional qualities enabling it to meet different applications for water coming from industrial activities such as food processing.
The objectives of the project were to:
- adapt a two stage activated sludge process to the specific conditions and qualities of the waste waters produced by milk, milk powder, butter production
- demonstrate the high performance in biodegradation of organic matters and elimination of nitrogenous and phosphorous components
- demonstrate the stability of the process changing organic and hydraulic outputs
- show the reduced investment needs, due to the compact plant (total treatment volume reduced up to 50% compared to classical processes)
- show the low exploitation costs
- use the reference plant and its results for developing other projects in industrial and/or agro-food waste water treatment
- open the market for SME's to a sector so far dominated by multinational companies.
The development and demonstration of a high performance low cost technology may accelerate the installation of waste water treatment equipment in the private and industrial sector, because many industrial companies especially in the food sector are very conscious of their environmental problems but do not invest in clean technologies because of high costs.