Breweries and other industrial beverage companies face a dilemma: They are major water users, and they also incur major wastewater costs. Some companies are trying to streamline the process by cutting out the middleman and treating their own wastewater.
Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR, is trying that approach. The company says it prides itself for using environmentally-friendly practices, including restoring “one billion gallons of water into the Deschutes River every year to offset what we use to brew our ... tasty beer.”
Still, cost advantages really prompted the brewery to consider treating its own waste.
“Until now, the brewery has relied on a few methods to dispose of the approximately 100,000 gallons of wastewater the brewing process involves on a daily basis, including paying for the municipal facility to treat the water and shipping so-called high strength wastewater (that which includes yeast or even rejected beer) to farmers who use the nutrient-rich liquid to aid their crop growth,” Food & Wine reported.
But disposal fees are rising to $1 million annually, and farmland in that area is going away. These forces have prompted the brewery to open its own treatment facility next year, investing over $11 million in the project.
“The waste will be used to power generators, millions of gallons of water will be removed from the Bend sewer systems annually saving on those disposal fees, and building with additional capacity in mind would allow for potential income from nearby beer companies. With about 30 fellow breweries in Central Oregon, this project could be not only standard-setting, but a boon to opportunities for the entire industry,” the report said.
The wastewater challenge for breweries is, in part, just how much of it they create.
"Breweries use about seven barrels of water for every barrel of beer produced," said Tyler Huggins, a researcher who has worked on brewery wastewater issues at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "And they can't just dump it into the sewer because it requires extra filtration."
To read more about brewery wastewater visit Water Online’s Water And Wastewater Treatment For The Food & Beverage Industry Solutions Center.