University of Minnesota
Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

Getting a Taste of Winning

Kerry Bio-Science wins Industrial Environmental Achievement Award.

As one of Minnesota’s fastest growing cities, Rochester must build a new wastewater treatment plant to meet demand. While waiting three to five years for the new facility to come online, the publicly owned treatment works (POTW) is working with its largest industrial users to keep loads as low as possible because it is near capacity.

Kerry Bio-Science (formerly Quest International) was among the companies asked to evaluate its effluent. The company produces flavors and food ingredients. Water scrubbers, cooling applications and extensive-cleaning needs generate significant amounts of effluent, with high levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS) and phosphorus.

A MnTAP intern worked full time at Kerry Bio-Science during the summer of 2001 to identify high volume wastewater streams in order to reduce loading and ingredient losses.

The intern’s research laid the groundwork for changes at Kerry Bio-Science, including:

  • Automating a sterilizer. This tightened control of key process parameters and reduced the number of diverts of unsterilized product to the drain.
  • Automating a system to concentrate and collect solids in both dryer impinger systems.
  • Pumping centrifuge desludges to the byproduct collection system instead of sending down the drain.
  • Improving dry cleanup of dryer solids prior to beginning the clean-in-place cycle.

“All of the changes we made came from the initial work that Katie [the MnTAP intern] did,“ said Greg Hitchcock, engineering and maintenance manager.

Kerry Bio-Science is proactive in complying with environmental regulations. It also wanted to help out the city until the POTW got its expansion put in.

“The changes were for good business reasons. Less product going down the drain means there’s more to sell,” Hitchcock noted. Annually, Kerry Bio-Science saves $15,400 by reducing TSS charges and $2,300 by reducing BOD charges. Reduced product loss generated additional savings.

“The company continues to expand, increasing production while reducing waste. Without these reductions the company would have more wastewater compliance issues,” said David Lane, POTW pretreatment coordinator.

The Central States Water Environment Association gives the Industrial Environmental Achievement Award to one industry per year to recognize outstanding waste minimization, pollution prevention, environmental compliance and environmental stewardship.

“Winning the award was a lot of personal satisfaction for me. It was nice being able to show the award to the city and to corporate. We had proof that we are doing a good job,” said Hitchcock.

This article was originally published in the 2004 Summer issue of the Source.

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