Plant-based food manufacturer Alpro has put a new water recycling installation into use in its factory in Wevelgem, making it the largest one in use in Flanders.
The project involves an investment of €3 million, in collaboration with De Watergroep (the Water Group).
The new installation reuses 80 percent of the wastewater generated by the factory, treating it and bringing it up to the quality of drinking water.
Alpro has already launched programmes in the past to reduce water and energy consumption and reduce waste, according to the Flemish information centre for agriculture and horticulture (VILT).
“Water is an important component in the production of plant-based foods,” VILT reported.
“Not only in the cultivation of ingredients, but also for cleaning the factories within the framework of food safety.”
In all Alpro factories, wastewater is purified.
In the past ten years, water consumption per product has already been reduced by a fifth.
De Watergroep helped to build the plant and also operates it.
“This not only closes the water cycle, but also provides more capacity on our drinking water network and less pressure on vulnerable groundwater layers,” said Frank De Poortere, industry manager at De Watergroep.
“This way, we can continue to meet our customers' needs at peak consumption times in the future.”
The reuse plant in Wevelgem has an initial capacity of 720,000 cubic metres of water per year, which can later be scaled up to 930,000 cubic metres.
Various filtering techniques are used, including coarse filtration, pipe flocculation or flocculation, ultra-filtration and reverse osmosis, which ensures that the water meets the standards for drinking water.
Still, Alpro will not use the purified water in its products - it will use it in its production processes.
The company is also investing nearly €4 million in a fully flexible pilot production line in the Plant-Based Innovation Centre on the Wevelgem site.
The intention is to make 'test runs' possible there, on a much larger scale (five to eight times larger) than today.
The new innovation centre will be put into use early next year.
The Brussels Times