Saving Water at Golden State Foods
Golden State Foods (GSF) was facing a challenge. Located in Conyers, Georgia, GSF manufactures beef patties, ketchup, syrups, and salad dressings for the fast food industry. Increased production in 1995 and 1996 resulted in a corresponding increase in wastewater generation. As a result, the on-site wastewater treatment plant was reaching capacity. One obvious option was to upgrade the existing treatment plant at a cost of over one million dollars. GSF decided, however, that waste reduction and pollution prevention was the key to meeting the challenge.
The GSF management realized that waste reduction of all kinds would be in the best interest of both the business and the local community. A waste reduction team was formed to examine the problem and reduce overall waste. The team developed a Waste Reduction Plan and established reduction goals for all waste streams. As the plan was placed into action, the group soon learned that any process or operational change that benefited production efficiencies and yields tended to reduce the waste stream. Production scheduling was changed, maintenance became more focused, processes were examined, and production runs were extended where possible to reduce start-ups and clean-ups. The focus of “putting it in the package and not down the drain” helped to reduce waste and increase production yields, efficiencies, and capacity. A water recycling system was installed to take water used in production to a tank and use that water in the operation of the wastewater plant. GSF further demonstrated commitment to waste reduction by participating in training provided by The University of Georgia Outreach program. The Outreach program, developed by the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department of the University of Georgia, provided GSF with assistance in educating its employees about the importance and the benefits of waste reduction. Some of the technologies put into practice through work with the UGA Engineering Outreach Program staff include:
- Drain covers, to encourage sweeping of floors instead of hosing with water
- Clean In Place systems, which recycle the final rinse water
- Hose size reduction
- Using smaller nozzle size where possible (e.g. to wash plastic jugs after filling)
- Installation of solenoids on compressed air systems and wash water systems where possible
- Installation of a screening device which removes small particles from the waste water prior to processing
- A vacuum system to clean up spills instead of letting the material go down the drain
Waste reduction results were dramatic. For 1998, GSF saved 2.6 million gallons in water usage. GSF also reclaimed 919,000 gallons of water for reuse in the wastewater system. These two elements of the waste reduction plan led to an annual savings of $44,000. GSF also realized the significant savings of not having to up-grade its existing wastewater treatment plant.