Wastewater management for meat producer in Ecuador

In contract by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank, Fraunhofer IGB assisted the major producer of poultry and pork products in Ecuador in optimizing its wastewater and waste management regime at selected production sites.

The company operates a total of 95 production sites, which are distributed over wide areas of the country. Following new environmental legislation, industry in Ecuador has until 2008 to ensure that wastewaters from industrial production, before being discharged into surface water bodies, comply with limits which meet international standards. There are similarly stringent requirements affecting the disposal of solid waste. Unlike Western Europe, however, Ecuador largely lacks a public wastewater infrastructure. Enterprises are therefore, basically, direct dischargers.

Situation analysis and action plan

In this building up to 25000 hens are kept in floor housing.
In this building up to 25000 hens are kept in floor housing.

Following a situation analysis, various technical means were to be indicated, and compared, the most favorable variants selected on the basis of cost-benefit estimations, and an action plan drafted.In preparation for a tour of inspection, key framework data were requested by environmental officers at the company’s headquarters.

The inspection tour itself visited a reproduction farm for poultry, a hatchery, a poultry farm, three poultry slaughterhouses, a reproduction farm for pigs, a pig farm, a pork slaughterhouse, two sausage factories, with slaughtering of cattle and pigs, and a production factory for shrimps and tilapia. 

Visiting tour enables immediate measures

Even during the inspection tour, at a number of production sites immediate concrete measures were proposed to improve the existing situation. In most cases, an anaerobic wastewater treatment with biogas production was recommended.

Longer-term measures

Open lagoon for the treatment of wastewater from a pig farm.
Open lagoon for the treatment of wastewater from a pig farm.

None of the existing wastewater treatment facilities was able to comply with the limits laid down in the new Ecuadorian environmental legislation. Even some new wastewater treatment plants already being offered would not be suitable for such compliance, following analysis by the project team.

In the absence of sufficient data, plausible estimates had to be used in drawing up the proposed processes. Precise plant designs or cost calculations could not be carried out for that reason, however. On this basis, the action plan envisages a first step involving a measurement program for determining the key wastewater parameters.

Additionally, the tasks will be to compare digestion and composting for the treatment of organic industrial waste, taking into account the energy requirement, the possible saving in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the trading of emissions rights, and logistical aspects.