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Being one of the leading companies for wastewater treatment, REMONDIS Aqua also has a number of well-known industrial businesses among its clients. Just one example is the Deutsches Milchkontor GmbH (DMK) which has been collaborating with REMONDIS Aqua for more than a decade now. DMK was established in 2011 as a result of a merger between Humana Milchindustrie GmbH and Nordmilch GmbH. With 26 business locations across ten German states, the DMK GROUP has become one of the leading dairy companies – both at home and in Europe.
One of the company’s factories is located in Altentreptow in the Mecklenburg lake district. Each day, up to 1.2 million litres of milk are delivered to the site which DMK then uses to produce cheese, both for its own Milram brand and for leading food retailers. wheyco GmbH, a subsidiary of the DMK GROUP, can also be found at the site. Its task is to transform up to four million litres of whey into special whey protein and lactose products which are then marketed to the food and drinks industries around the world as concentrate and/or powder.
REMONDIS Aqua has been providing DMK’s factory in Altentreptow with reliable wastewater services since 2006. This collaboration began after DMK decided to extend its cheese-making business to include a new and innovative whey processing plant. REMONDIS Aqua was commissioned with the task of extending and running the wastewater facility there. The production operations have steadily grown since then which has meant that the wastewater treatment facility has also had to be extended three times – with the last upgrade almost doubling the facility’s capacity. DMK put REMONDIS Aqua GmbH in charge of operating this part of its business and last year their cooperation agreement was extended by a further ten years. As the operator of the facility, REMONDIS is also responsible for ensuring all discharge values are met and for maintaining and servicing the technology.
REMONDIS Aqua is also responsible for monitoring discharge values and maintaining and servicing the technology
The wastewater from both the cheese production and whey processing operations contains high levels of organic pollutants which means it needs to undergo special treatment and recycling processes before it can be discharged. Using a special buffer management process, the majority of the pollutants are first transformed into biogas which is then turned into electricity in REMONDIS’ own combined heat and power plant. The amount of electricity produced by the combined heat and power plant exceeds the total amount of energy needed by the whole of the wastewater treatment facility. The buffer management process ensures that the levels of pollutants are evenly distributed and that the biological treatment stages are protected from the cleaning and disinfection agents. The heat generated by the combined heat and power plant is used for the wastewater treatment process.
DMK’s wastewater treatment facility has already been extended three times
The wastewater also undergoes the patented REPHOS process to enable the phosphorus to be recovered. Thanks to this REPHOS system, wastewater treatment can help to conserve natural resources, recover raw materials and protect the environment, as REPHOS not only improves the properties of the sludge for the downstream aerobic stage but also generates a pure, concentrated product. This is a popular product among agricultural businesses as it is a very effective fertiliser. What’s more, the REPHOS process helps make the facility even more cost effective as the different material flows can be managed more efficiently and fewer flocculation agents are needed.
A further challenge faced by the operators of industrial wastewater treatment facilities is the quality of the wastewater which can fluctuate greatly depending on production levels. The amount of pollutants in the water can vary from zero during a production break to extremely high levels in the case of machine failure. The latter led to DMK and REMONDIS testing a further innovative system. Unexpectedly high levels of pollutants may not only make it difficult to meet discharge values but could also lead to a sudden increase in the amount of biogas produced which in turn creates its own risks. To avoid such occurrences, a large-scale control system has been integrated into the wastewater treatment facility which continuously measures and analyses the amount of carbon in the water entering the facility. Highly polluted water can be detected early on and be automatically diverted into an emergency tank, allowing small amounts to then be gradually mixed with the water being treated. This ensures that the levels of pollutants are evenly distributed and that the same amount and quality of biogas are produced.
Thanks to the breadth of its experience, REMONDIS Aqua is able to develop innovative processes and then implement these in collaboration with its customers, such as DMK. REMONDIS has considerably reduced DMK’s workload in Altentreptow by taking over the wastewater treatment operations and the risks involved. DMK is very clear about what it expects REMONDIS to achieve: the operations must not only be cost effective but also sustainable. Indeed, one of the goals of DMK’s sustainable development strategy is for it to have further improved its own environmental performance by 2020. The above-average efforts being made by the DMK GROUP in this area led to it being recognised by EcoVadis in spring 2016.