MORE SUSTAINABLE EQUIPMENT FOR FOOD PROCESSING
The food industry, from the point of view of sustainability of production chains and efficiency of its processes, increasingly faces the consideration of environmental variables: use of natural resources and generation of waste and emissions.
Studies based on the methodology of life-cycle assessment (LCA) clearly show that currently one of the main challenges in minimizing the environmental impact of food processing is that related to cleaning and disinfection (sanitation) of equipment and facilities, one of the most intensive operations in consumption of water and energy (linked to the generation of CO2 emissions and waste water) and the use of chemicals (chlorine, detergents, disinfectants).
On the other hand, the sanitation of equipment and facilities in the food processing industry is crucial for food security and the quality of the final product, and therefore a sine qua non requirement for the industry. As such, the frequency and intensity of cleaning and disinfection actions will depend on the requirements of hygiene, the efficiency of the cleaning process and the design of the equipment and facilities. A preventive strategy to reduce the environmental impact on the operations of sanitation is the improvement of the hygienic design of the equipment.
The main goal of hygienic design is to improve the simplicity and the results of the sanitation of equipment and facilities, thus reducing and eliminating the critical points of the equipment or facilities where the raw material or dirt cannot be adequately removed by means of a standard process of cleaning and disinfection.
If design also reduces the environmental impact during the sanitation thanks to a smaller need of water, energy and chemicals to obtain the same level of required hygiene, we will be talking about eco-hygienic design. These are designs that allow the reuse of water, garbage collection, reduction of pipe and duct networks, adequacy of the angle of collection of raw materials, etc.