In the food and drink industry, one of the most important responsibilities is to maintain high levels of sanitation throughout the production process. For organizations that bottle beverages, water treatment is a fundamental part of any effective hygiene regime and there are stringent health and safety standards which need to be met.
Halogen-based chemical disinfectants
Historically, organizations have used biocidal products which are based on chemicals such as chlorine, bromine or iodine, to disinfect water systems. However, concerns over their impact on product quality and the environment have led to the development of sanitation methods that don’t rely on halogen-based chemical disinfectants. These are being increasingly utilized by the world’s leading drink producers.
One such treatment method, which holds a number of benefits for bottlers, involves the use of ozone as a disinfection agent. When dissolved in water, ozone produces an extremely powerful and environmentally friendly biocide through oxidization, capable of eliminating bacteria, viruses and microbial cysts.
Unlike other disinfectants, ozone does not combine with organic materials to create chemical by-products or residues during the sanitation process. In addition, the substance naturally breaks down into oxygen once contaminants have been removed, resulting in minimal product interference.
Resource efficiency is another key advantage that comes with the ozonated water as, instead of being flushed away, it can be reclaimed and used countless times. Despite this, the substance is over 50 times more reactive than chlorine, the more traditional alternative, making it a highly efficient disinfection agent.
One major company, currently making the most of this advanced, non-conventional water treatment technology, is Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland. As one of the largest bottlers in Ireland, the business produces a range of beverages for the island of Ireland from its production plant in Lisburn, County Antrim.
Dow Jones Sustainability Indices
With a heavy focus on sustainability, Coca-Cola HBC was recently named global beverage industry in sustainability for the 3rd consecutive year according to Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). The local business contributes to these results, with ambitious local targets across water, carbon and waste to help the Group achieve these global accreditations.
Coca-Cola HBC places a high importance on water stewardship in its operations, making use of local fresh water for its production and cleaning processes. Regular risk assessments are conducted at the plant, and the business ensures all water is returned to the natural environment in a condition that supports aquatic life. In addition to its environmentally friendly focus, Coca-Cola HBC commits itself to high internal efficiency standards, incorporating water saving technologies into its production lines and setting its teams stringent targets to meet.
Before they are filled, all receptacles going through the plant are washed in line with international food safety management standards, such as ISO 22000. With this in mind, Coca-Cola HBC needed a water treatment system that did not rely on the use of halogen-based disinfectants and was specifically designed to ensure minimal disruption to operations.
Over the last 15 years, ESG, has been working with Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland, maintaining a range of ozone water treatment equipment at its production plant in County Antrim.
Two OCS 100 water disinfection units installed in the plant currently provide Coca-Cola HBC with ozonized, reclaimable water on two bottle washing lines. These devices use state of the art technology which results in minimal oxygen demand and energy consumption.
Since the contract began in 2002, ESG’s water treatment team, which specializes in non-chemical disinfection methods, has been carrying out regular, quarterly maintenance of the ozone systems, helping ensure uninterrupted operations within the plant.
Having been impressed by ESG’s maintenance services over the years, Coca-Cola HBC has made several advancements on its original contract, the most recent of which being the purchase of a remote monitoring and control option. The new upgrade to the ozone equipment allows ESG to remotely access the system from any location and make alterations to the programming from offsite. By using the machines, the company is also able to save around 50 liters of cooling water for every minute of operation.
The recent upgrade means the Water Treatment Team can log-in to the units from ESG’s office in Thame, Oxfordshire, and monitor the system in real time, making any changes instantly and remotely if required.
The Coca-Cola HBC Lisburn plant has reduced water usage by 13% over the last five years. As the machines use reclaimable water for their cooling systems, it helps to minimize consumption and achieve its 2020 targets in this area.’
Mick Pratt is responsible for the technical/commercial activity of ESG’s Water Business (formally Henley Water and Waterwise). The UK-based firm provides testing, inspection and compliance services, with technology focusing on Infrastructure, the Built Environment and Energy & Waste.