Reuse of process water reduces footprint of poultry processing

Water Treatment solutions for the poultry industry


Given environmental requirements on the one hand and the scarcity of water in some parts of the world on the other, the treatment of wastewater has become a very important topic in the poultry industry. Wastewater treatment helps reduce the water footprint of poultry processing. Being a full-line supplier, Marel Poultry is able to supply made-to-measure water treatment solutions. These cost effective and energy efficient systems solve the many complex challenges posed by wastewater disposal.

Poultry processing plants use water to transport offal, to wash product and to clean machines and rooms. Every plant has to take care of its wastewater, which obviously cannot be released untreated into a sewer, into ground or surface water (ditches, rivers, ocean). Marel Poultry technologies have already succeeded in reducing considerably the use of water per processed product. The next sustainable step is to bring the water used back into the process, a task for Marel Water Treatment.

Fit for reuse or discharge

Waste process water from a poultry processing plant can contain elements such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, blood, feathers, meat particles, residual acids, metals, and chemicals. Wastewater should be treated to remove of such pollutants (contaminants). By purifying, i.e. removing some or all of the contaminants, Marel Water Treatment makes the water fit for discharge to the sewer, to ground water, to surface water or to a purification installation to be upgraded into process water for re-use.

Laws and regulations

Poultry processing companies across the globe need to meet discharge regulations that can vary from region to region. In addition, governmental directives keep changing with ever-tighter regulations on energy usage, use of chemicals and the recycling of process residues. “The main challenges our customers face at this moment include water supply issues, rising operational costs, higher concentrations of pollutants and the increasing cost of sludge offal disposal. All these issues require water treatment solutions and systems that comply with local laws and regulations. To ensure this, we focus on the production processes and size of each customer,” says Maarten ter Woerds, Manager Sales Engineering Marel Water Treatment. “We know the customer’s process and can adapt the design of the water treatment accordingly, creating solutions that manage effluent effectively. We also urge our clients to maintain an efficient process and be prepared for the future, as requirements can tighten and unforeseen issues arise.”

Discharge to sewers

Organizations are obliged to ensure that any wastewater they produce can be discharged to the sewer without adverse effects. Coarse particles and fats can clog sewers, affecting households and other businesses discharging into the same sewer. Measures to prevent clogged sewers range from filter baskets or an elementary static fat trap in the production process to coagulant and flocculent dosing systems removing between 60% and 80% of pollutants.

Discharge to surface water

In most countries, local legislation covers discharge to surface water. In almost all cases, a biological, anaerobic and/or aerobic treatment step is required. After the first decontamination steps, which “mechanically” purify the waste water of coarse particles, greases and emulsions, biological purification takes over. The correct population of bacteria in the water basin ‘eats’ the contamination and decomposes dissolved organic substances. Marel offers systems such as BioFlot®, Voltaflow®, Voltaflot® and Voltamix®.


The efficient use of water is of paramount importance when processing food. In places where water is short, water re-use is most definitely the way to go. Purified water can be recycled for use in cooling towers, in the cleaning of factory areas and trucks, in toilets and in other secondary systems where there is no direct contact with the end product. A practical example of Marel’s developments in water re-use is the BioBrane ® system. It re-uses biologically treated wastewater and purifies it to process water quality. BioBrane® comprises the following basic processing steps: advanced pre-treatment, biological treatment, MBR sludge water separation followed by reverse osmosis technology and final disinfection.

Waste water experience

Marel’s worldwide presence offers many opportunities for this branch of its activities. Armed with decades of experience, the Marel Water Treatment team has designed and supplied treatment facilities around the world; from Russia to Argentina and from Canada to Australia. Marel Water Treatment offers food processing companies the solutions to treat their wastewater in compliance with local and international discharge requirements. Clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce and valuable resource. Being able to treat wastewater so that it can be reused in processing operations, rather than simply discharging it, is a key component in environmental sustainability.

Expert consultations

Marel offers systems able to purify water to any desired degree of purification using different methodology and solutions, each with their own characteristics. This includes systems for pretreatment, biological treatment, advanced purification and sludge treatment for a variety of applications. “As a supplier of total solutions, Marel delivers not just water treatment systems; we also provide expert consultations, which are a core part of our activities,” says Maarten ter Woerds. “We approach all projects by examining the production processes to see where the company can save on water usage, treatment and disposal. At the same time we create systems that are environmentally friendly, cost effective and energy-efficient.”

Single point of contact

Every customer with a processing plant of a certain size needs a waste water system and a Marel Water Treatment installation sits well with Marel Poultry processing systems. Having a single point of contact, poultry processors are freed from all worries. From beginning to end of the process, every possible issue is tackled. As we speak, Marel is building extensive wastewater treatment installations in the UK and Malaysia for Marel Poultry customers.

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