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The market for water and wastewater treatment equipment is expanding as food processing plants are looking to reduce their water footprints, wastewater discharge, and wastewater treatment costs, according to a report by Frost & Sullivan. As the food and beverage industry is seeking greater sustainability, Frost says there is an opportunity for equipment suppliers to work with retailers to aid the end-market’s endeavors through processing and packaging.

Frost”s analysis of the Water and Wastewater Treatment Equipment Market in the Food and Beverage Industry research finds that the market earned revenues of $288.7 million in 2011, and the research firm predicts this to reach $336.2 million in 2017.

Media coverage and consumer awareness of resource conservation in addition to rising pressure from environmental groups regarding the disposal of solids in North America further compels food and beverage plants to implement new strategies for enhancing sustainability and water and wastewater treatment.

Currently, either the state or the federal environmental enforcement agencies require food processors to pay fines if their discharged wastewater exceeds permitted levels of toxicity. The wastewater from food and beverage plants normally contains only a few hazardous and persistent compounds regulated under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) listing. With the exception of some toxic cleaning products, the wastewater generated is organic and can be treated by conventional biological technologies.

However, a lack of regulatory insight has allowed plant processors to pay wastewater surcharges rather than implement treatment solutions. Even though large food and beverage manufacturing plants do implement technologies, many medium to small food processors prefer to pay the surcharge rather than install expensive water and wastewater treatment solutions.