One of the major challenges in minimising the environmental impact of food processes is related with cleaning and disinfection of equipments and installations.
Environmental impact during sanitation (cleaning and disinfection) of equipment and surfaces is related with the use of natural resources (namely water, energy) the use of chemicals (chloride, detergents, disinfectants) and the generation of the emissions (wastewater).
Most of equipment of food industry is sanitised daily, in some cases, several times per day, so represents a significant part of the total environmental impact of the equipment during is life cycle. Considering the times each equipment is sanitizing during its life cycle (15 years by mean) the environmental relevance of sanitation operations reveals even greater.
Sanitation of equipment and surfaces is highly correlated with environmental impacts and economical cost. A preventive strategy to reduce environmental impact in sanitation operations is by means of the improvement of the hygienic eco-design of the equipment.
The main objective of the hygienic design is to improve the easiness and the result of the sanitation of equipments and installations, but also leading to a reduction of the environmental impact during its sanitation. The eco-design term goes beyond this concept adding the consideration of environmental criteria in the design of the equipment itself (use of new materials, spillage collection, insulation improvement, etc.).
Despite the positive correlation between hygienic eco-design of equipment and the reduction in the environmental impact during sanitation processes, there is a lack of experimental and consistent data at industrial level to support this fact.
Hygienic eco-design of equipment is not considered as Best Available Technique in the BREF reference document for the Food, Drink and Milk Industry, which only contains quite unspecific and general references to the design of equipment, as for example: “design/select equipment, which optimises consumption and emission levels and facilitates correct operation and maintenance”.
The general objective of the ECODHYBAT project is to demonstrate that the improvement of the cleanability of food processing equipment, by introducing hygienic eco-design criteria, lead to a significant reduction of total environmental impact during its productive life and then, that hygienic design shall be considered as Best Available Techniques for the food industry. ECODHYBAT project aims to provide suitable experimental results at industrial scale in two representative sectors, dairy and fish processing.
The environmental impact (water, energy, cleaning products, waste-water and air emissions) generated by the sanitation of well hygienic eco-designed equipment and surfaces will be compared with respect to standard ones. The results obtained at industrial scale could be extrapolated to other food sectors.
ACTIONS CARRIED OUT BY THE PROJECT
A. Preparatory actions. Environmental and hygienic diagnosis of sanitation on 2 fish and 2 milk process lines. Identification of design changes in key equipment for a better cleanability. Methodology for evaluation and cleanability protocols.
B. Implementation. Modification of equipment/installations following environmental and hygienic criteria. Demonstrative sanitation trials at both pilot and industrial plant scale to obtain the hygienic, environmental and economic information for BAT assessment. Comparative assessment using LCA, including food safety and economic criteria. Potential savings in water, energy, chemicals, waste-water and CO2 emissions at sector level.
C. Monitoring. Improvements on the environment issues targeted are monitored throughout the project through specific indicators. Socioeconomic impact on the local economy and population will be assessed.
D. Communication and dissemination actions. Results of the project will be communicated to main stakeholders (IPPCB, food companies, machinery providers and manufacturers and the general public) following a dissemination and communication plan. Presentations will be organised to communicate results.
E. Project management activities.
ECODHYBAT is a project cofinanced by LIFE+, the EU’s financial instrument for supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU.