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Industrial Effluent: Understanding the Basics

Wastewater Management Industrial

Updated on Oct 11, 2023

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Industrial effluent might not be something that you’ve given too much thought to in the past. Indeed, you might have lived up until this point without ever giving it any consideration at all. But the facts are that nearly every industry has industrial effluent treatment requirements at some stage in their process. In fact, it’s basically something that we really can’t have society functioning without; from pharmaceutical companies to food production, from hospitals and farms to car manufacturers, each of them produce this waste product in some form, so it needs to be treated appropriately.

But what’s the best way to treat it and how do we go about it? Well, there are a number of different types of wastewater, depending on what contaminants are in the industrial effluent. In this article we’re going to give you the basics: what it is, where you’ll find it, and some examples. By knowing more, you can engage with wastewater professionals in a much more effective way.

What is Industrial Effluent?

Wastewater is, to put it simply, exactly what it sounds like. It is the water that is produced as a by-product of any number of industrial processes. This could be something like ‘sludge’, or something bacterial or organic. It’s whatever contaminates the water to the point that it would need to be cleaned in order to be released back into the environment.

Where do you Find It?

As mentioned, industrial wastewater is very common. Although it’s often kept out of sight in special sites and treated with very specialised equipment, nearly every process will produce some sort of waste product that mixes with water during production.

You’ll find it in food production, where quantities of salt might be used, or pesticides or other sterilising chemicals. The equipment used to produce the food may be treated with something that, when rinsed off, becomes too contaminated to be released into the water supply. It can be found in chemical plants – unsurprisingly – and wherever metals are used. Metal shavings and small metal particulates can enter the water supply as part of industrial processes.

It’s important to note that each of these industrial effluent types are different, but all still need treating with the same care and efficiency.

Different Types of Contaminants

If you were in the meat production sector, then your industrial effluent may well contain quantities of fat or oil that has to be cleaned. Hospitals might also introduce organic matter into their waste water.

Then you have things like metals and chemicals, which can pose serious health hazards. These are essentially poisonous to humans, so the importance of cleaning this waste product cannot be overstated.

Reputation Matters

As you can see from this outline of the basics, industrial effluent comes in all shapes and sizes, and can be very different from one sector to the next. Not only that, but it’s crucial for both environmental and legal compliance that the clean-up be effective and safe. For this reason, it is never a good idea to attempt this type of operation yourself – it should always be done at the direction of reputable companies who have experience working in this type of cleaning. It might be tempting to take the short DIY route, but it could have very bad consequences for everybody involved.

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Sean Clifford is an advisor at AllWater Technologies Ltd, a wholly independent company providing consultation and water treatment equipment, including industrial effluent treatment plant and reverse osmosis water systems. Bringing together a host of experience and specialist knowledge, the company is committed to building and maintaining long-term relationships and creating maximum value and benefit for their customers.

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