Resource-saving filtration solutions

Food producers face increasing calls to reduce their environmental footprint. Tetra Pak can help you optimize resource use in your production and minimize waste, benefitting both the environment and your bottom line.

Water – a scarce resource

Clean drinking water is a scarce resource in many countries. Implementing sustainable solutions in food processing can reduce water consumption and effluent volume significantly.

Process water recovery and reuse

Food processing applications such as product concentration often generate wastewater that is disposed of by drain. But treating this excess water enables it to be reused in production instead of going to waste.

The water can come from a wide range of processes and products, such as concentration of milk for milk powder or whey protein for sports, infant and senior nutrition. Using membrane filtration, it can be treated to a quality that allows it to be used to clean processing equipment or even in food processes where it has direct contact with the product itself.

In some locations, treated process water can achieve such high quality that it is superior to the available drinking water.

Watch this video and learn more about our resource saving filtration solutions to boost your bottom line – and make a difference to the environment.

Reduce loss of valuable products and resources

Product recovery

Minimizing losses of valuable products is a top priority in any food production line. Prior to cleaning-in-place, processed product residues are typically flushed out with water. In many cases, both product and flush water can be recovered to minimize production waste.

One example is white water, which is the first flush water emitted when cleaning milk processing equipment. White water consists of roughly one third product and two thirds water. Milk solids from this flush water can be recovered with the help of membrane filtration and treated for further use.

The milk solids can be used for: ​​

  • Yoghurt
  • Ice cream
  • Cheese
  • Fermented products​.

Customer example: concentration of white water with membrane filtration

We helped a dairy that produces drinking milk implement a membrane filtration system for concentrating white water.

The dairy collects around 10,000 litres of white water from different processes daily. Using membrane filtration, it can now concentrate the white water, corresponding to 2,200 litres of milk per day. This has reduced milk product losses by 308,000 litres each year.

The dairy also recovers 7,800 litres of water every day using membrane filtration. This water can be used for cleaning processes, reducing the need for freshwater by the same amount.

Overall, wastewater volume requiring treatment has been reduced by 730,000 litres annually. 

Caustic recovery

Food producers use significant amounts of chemicals to clean their production facilities, in many cases as single use.

Filtering spent chemicals like caustic can enable up to 90 percent to be reused. This lowers wastewater volumes, reduces the need for wastewater pH neutralization and minimizes salt discharge from the spent caustic

Reusing caustic not only saves money on wastewater treatment. Heat can also be recovered. Caustic is heated during cleaning, and recovering caustic when hot means less energy needs to be added to reach the required temperature.

On top of this, the reduced need to formulate new caustic cleaning solutions reduces water consumption.

Customer example: membrane filtration of spent caustic from evaporator

For several years, a dairy producing ingredients operated a membrane filtration system that purified spent caustic from evaporators for reuse. But the exact savings had never been calculated.

In cooperation with Tetra Pak, solutions were implemented to investigate the potential annual savings of chemicals, water and energy. The membrane filtration system was also optimized to drive further economies.

Today, less wastewater is discharged, fewer chemicals are used and more energy is saved. In 2021 the annual saving totalled EUR 470,000, while the payback time for the optimized filtration system, tanks and pipes was approximately 18 months.

By February 2022, the annual savings on energy prices at that time had risen to EUR 733,333.

Resource optimization assessment

Tetra Pak offers an assessment to help you become more sustainable. The assessment contains:

  • A feasibility study to evaluate potential improvements
  • An assessment of existing practices and production setup on site
  • Support on alignment with local legislation
  • Suggestions for improvements
  • Reporting

Food safety and local legislation

One crucial aspect of recovering, reusing and recycling resources in food processing is food safety. Many countries have strict requirements in this regard. With our expertise, we at Tetra Pak deliver sustainable and profitable process solutions that go hand-in-hand with our brand promise: Protects What’s Good.