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Sustainability drives new projects – Oceania Dairy

Luke Lynch Oct 10

“As the rest of the world slowed down we were able to press on with some fairly major capital projects, so it was a good achievement from our capital project team.”

Acting General Manager Logan Hanifin

Sustainability and environmental benefits were major drivers in Oceania’s decision to undertake two parallel projects at its hi-tech Glenavy dairy processing plant—one designed to recover chemicals, the other to reduce water intake.

Chemicals used in the cleaning process at the plant, normally discharged into the plant’s wastewater treatment plant, will be recovered and reused, while water content extracted from raw milk will be cleansed and reused, saving up to one million litres of bore water a day. While technology for the chemical recovery is hoped to be commissioned and operational during the months of December 2020/January 2021, Oceania plans to operationalise water reduction by winter 2021, in line with the dairy off-season.

Oceania’s acting General Manager Logan Hanifin says Oceania had been investigating chemical recovery for several years, scoping the project and determining how it would work in operation.

“We use chemicals as part of our CIP solution for cleaning internal production contact surfaces to ensure the highest levels of hygiene are maintained,’’ Logan says.

“Currently, the CIP solution and associated cleaning chemicals go into our wastewater treatment system.

“The project will interrupt this process, capturing the chemicals before they enter the system. A nano-filtration membrane plant will remove unwanted particles from the chemicals which are then rebuilt by adding additional cleaning agents and re-used.”

With approved scope, design and budget, the project started in earnest January this year with the membrane plant on its way from Europe, silos being built in New Zealand and earthworks starting mid-September.

Delivering significant environmental benefits, the chemical recovery system will lead to less water being used on site and fewer chemicals going into Oceania’s wastewater treatment plant.

“The financial benefits are that we will not have to spend as much on purchasing chemicals,for the cleaning process.

“We will be using less raw chemicals in our CIP process and in turn end up with less chemicals passing through our wastewater treatment process.”

Logan says while capital investment for the project is significant, the volume of chemicals recovered is also considerable, resulting in a very positive financial return on investment.

“It’s an all round mutually beneficial project for the environment as well as economic stability for Oceania,’’ he said.

“This project is very close to our company’s sustainability values, with the added benefit of a financial return.

“The project will pay back for many years to come as Oceania continues to successfully operate within the region.”

The water reduction project taps into resources already available to Oceania as a dairy processing plant, without the need to draw significant volumes of bore water.

Up to 87% of the raw milk received from the farm gate is water—depending on season and other variables.

“At peak it could be up to 500,000 litres a day,” says Logan.

“Currently that water content is captured, dispatched to the wastewater plant and then used to irrigate surrounding farmers’ land. The water is removed from the raw milk through the evaporation process. While the water is clean it has minute traces of milk in it.

“That water will be put through a reverse osmosis (R/O) membrane plant to ensure it’s the highest quality.

“The water is then cleaned, UV treated, given a dose of chlorine, returned to the site’s potable water system and becomes regular use treated water.”

The cleansed water will then be used in the plant cleaning process, discharged to wastewater and used to irrigate surrounding farmland.

“The key driver for this project is again around conserving water and sustainability. The water extracted from cows milk will become our water supply off-setting our bore water intake.”

With two existing water treatment plants, when the new water and chemical recovery system comes on stream one of the existing water treatment plants will be on standby, providing redundancy.

Project management during a global pandemic has been problematic but the Oceania team has functioned well to bring it on stream.

“The membranes are coming from Europe so those companies were in a bit of turmoil at the time,’’ Logan says.

“Trying to maintain communication around design, tendering and ordering was challenging but our project managers were exceptional in supporting our suppliers both in New Zealand and abroad.

“As the rest of the world slowed down we were able to press on with some fairly major capital projects, so it was a good achievement from our capital project team.”

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