The MBR technology, which saves between 400,000 to 500,000 gallons of treated, reclaimed water every day at the plant, helped GNP earn the 2013 Clean Water Award from the US Poultry & Egg Association.
GNP completed a major expansion and upgrade of its wastewater treatment plant at its Cold Spring, Minn. chicken processing facility in 2011 after two years of evaluating new technologies, according to the company’s sustainability report.
The treatment plant employs MBR, a process that combines conventional biological wastewater treatment with a dense membrane filtration system. The wastewater is first treated with bacteria to remove many contaminants, then vacuumed through a membrane filter.
The process removes biological phosphorus and nitrogen by-products, GNP said. Solids that remain after water treatment are collected and used to make a compost product. The treated water is clean enough to be used in areas that do not come in contact with food, GNP said.
GNP’s Minnesota plant also has been outfitted with an energy efficient air blower system for additional savings.
Other companies in the poultry industry have employed water conservation initiatives in an effort to reduce costs and consume less. Poultry agribusiness firm Perdue Farms reduced water consumption by more than 683,000 gallons a week at each of its 14 food production plants. Perdue began by looking for leaking valves to reduce water waste. It also discovered it could use screening and chlorination to re-use water from bird washing, saving about 360 gallons of water per minute.
A bioreactor water treatment system saved Whitewater Processing Co.’s Ohio poultry farm $10 million over the next-best option. The bioreactor system, which was designed by an Ohio State University researcher, cost $1 million to build. The wastewater treatment system will cost an additional $1.8 million to operate and maintain over the next 20 years.