Leading South African dairy manufacturer and industry frontrunner in sustainability, Woodlands Dairy, has successfully commissioned a water recovery plant which purifies wastewater up to SANS 241 standard, equivalent to potable water. 

Says André Adendorff, Sustainability Manager at Woodlands Dairy: “Our natural resources are being consumed faster than they are being replaced by Mother Nature. Their scarcity has escalated their demand, which has caused their financial value to skyrocket. Our focus on reducing water consumption is not only for financial benefit, and protecting the natural environment, but also to alleviate our load on the municipal infrastructure.”

As part of improving their water balance, the company has started recycling water. “The plant was commissioned in March 2017 and by the end of 2022, recovered approximately 46% of our onsite wastewater, with the goal of ultimately recovering 60%. It has helped us to decrease our demand for municipal water, while also decreasing our effluent discharge,” explains Adendorff.

The plant can treat up to two million litres of effluent water (excluding sewerage) per day.  “A process of reverse osmosis purifies the water up to SANS 241 standard for potable water.  Methane gas from the bio-reactor is used to fire a biogas boiler, which produces 10% of the factory’s steam requirements. Our total water demand from the municipality for 2022 was only 54%, whilst the balance of 46% was recycled water from our plant. Our water saving through recycling amounts to an impressive 217 cubic meter of water,” says Adendorff.

The water footprint per litre of milk processed for 2022 was 1.25 litres. He continues: “Our target for 2022 was 1.28 litres of water. Additional water sourcing initiatives were implemented including rainwater harvesting and borehole water sources. A total of 31 000 cubic meter of water was sourced up to the end of December 2022 from these two sources. We intend to implement the water efficiency management system, the ISO 46001 standard, soon.”

The sustainable use of recycled water at Woodlands Dairy plays a key role in enhancing urban and community water supplies, such as in the water scarce Kouga municipal area. “Since implementing the wastewater recovery plant, it has not only shown the potential for improvements on water use strategies for the dairy, but also the spinoff benefits to the communities in the region. Woodlands Dairy started its sustainability journey in 2012 and has aligned its sustainability initiatives to consider the objectives of the United Nations sustainable development goals. These interlinked goals are a blueprint for a peaceful and prosperous future for all with an emphasis on protecting the environment for future generations,” Adendorff concludes.

Source: Woodlands dairy