The Coca-Cola Company has developed and tested a ‘first of its kind’ beverage process water recovery system that it says could save up to 100bn litres per year if adopted across its bottling network.
Coke’s system takes highly treated process water and subjects it to biological treatment in a membrane bioreactor, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, ozonation and, finally, ultraviolet disinfection.
Water produced meets or beats drinking water standards, according to the company, which trialled the system using pilot projects in Mexico and India but plans a system-wide roll-out from 2013.
Stringent water quality
Carletta Ooton, Coke’s vice president, chief quality, safety, and sustainable operations officer, said the company had focused on producing recovered water of the highest possible quality.
She said: “The multi-barrier system meets or exceeds even the most stringent water quality standards, reflecting our companywide commitment to safety, quality, and the environment in everything we do.”
Such water can be used for ‘non product’ activities such as clean-in-place (CIP) and bottle washing; Coke said its system expanded the range of manufacturing applications for recovered process water.
By reusing rather than treating and discharging water used in bottling facilities, Coke said it could cut its operational water needs by up to 35%.
Beyond the headline savings figure Coke claimed other benefits: the project’s multi-year bench- and commercial-scale testing, specific operating criteria and excellent finished water quality.
Extends recovered water uses
This last quality set precedents for the beverage industry in terms of expanding the range of manufacturing processes that could benefit from water use, the Coca-Cola Company claimed.
Coke said it was currently reviewing internal plans that would see the technology rolled-out across its bottling partners (there are more than 300 worldwide) starting in 2013.
Bea Perez, chief sustainability officer, the Coca-Cola Company, said that responsible water management was central to a sustainable future, and that today’s water challenges called for “extraordinary action”.
“We’ve assumed an active role in advancing innovation that conserves and sustainably manages water resources for the benefit of all: communities, nature, and business,” she said.
Since global reuse standards were lacking for the food and beverage industry, Coke said it was pursuing a widely applicable watery recovery and reuse approach on a scientific basis.