Could waste water leave your business high and dry?

With unlimited fines for those companies who fail to comply, plus reputational damage and lost business, Dave Broxton, managing director of Bohle, asks if your waste water strategy is up to scratch.

The penalties for failure to comply are astronomical, the potential rewards significant, so why wouldn’t you be on top of waste water management? Yet there are still far too many glass processors playing Russian roulette with waste water, with potentially catastrophic consequences for their businesses.

The majority of glass processors and IGU manufacturers in the UK have systems in place for cleaning and replacement of coolant, and the appropriate regulatory permissions to go with them – but not all. And it’s those glass processors who are running very significant risks of prosecution and penalties

These are not only unnecessary but – even if they aren’t caught out by legislation – can artificially inflate operating costs and exclude them from business.

Waste water governance starts at a European level: the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. This places a requirement on all member states, or states who were very recently members, to put in place strict controls on trade effluent, pre-authorising those discharges inspecting them on a regular basis.

Water companies are charged under the Water Industry Act 1991 with issuing those approvals and carrying out those regular inspections.

What is notable is that there are specific references within the act to suspended solids, which have the potential to block sewers through settlement. Glass finings sits firmly within this category which is why if you’re releasing it into the sewer system you need a Trade Effluent Consent, which may or may not be given by the water company.

Failure to comply with consent conditions, or to provide a Trade Effluent Consent, is an offence under Section 121 of the Water Industry Act. This could lead to prosecution with no limit placed on potential penalties in magistrates or crown courts.

Are people chancing it? Well, perhaps not intentionally but that isn’t a legal defence. If you aren’t sure if you have one or need one (although almost every business does), you need to apply for a Trade Effluent Consent from your water company.

That’s one part of the argument. The other should be just as compelling. If you aren’t managing waste water efficiently, you’re artificially inflating your costs and lowering product quality.

Clean water, especially with added coolant increases the performance of machinery by up to 20% and the service life of tools by up to 30%, but it can all too easily become contaminated with particles from drilling, polishing and grinding. This carries a potentially far higher price tag in lost man hours, falling product quality, in addition to reduced service life of equipment.

The cost of keeping coolant clean can also quickly add up. Modelling by Bohle reveals that using just 400 litres of water as part of your weekly cleaning cycle equates to a yearly water consumption of approximately 20,000 litres, as well as high cost for its disposal.

There’s also a significant time input to consider. To keep machinery running at its optimum and edge-quality at its best, you need to change coolant regularly. That can easily run to six to eight hours a week. That’s the equivalent of a day’s production plus the manpower costs to do it. It doesn’t make sense.

The glass processing industry has traditionally relied on centrifugal water cleaning systems, but these can’t filter glass particles <5µm. This is something that can, over time, contribute to lower product quality and a build-up of concretion in the machine and its tanks.

Bohle sedimentors use an automated, multi-stage process to remove contaminants from coolants and water. This includes filtering of glass particles of <5µm or less but doing so using far less energy.

Combined with improved product quality and increased service life, as well as trimming around 10% off the costs of water disposal, sedimentors will pay back against purchase costs in as little as a year.

It’s not necessarily about the major spend on a new straight-line edger, it’s about thinking ‘could I get more capacity out of an existing platform for a far smaller outlay?’

Bohle’s range of Sedimentors are suitable for a wide assortment of grinding, drilling and sawing glass equipment, using a sophisticated multi-stage process to remove contaminants from coolants and water.