Drinking wine has been very popular in Australia for several years. On many occasions, it serves as a perfect social drink. But whether you drink wine in the company of a close friend or serve it at a party, it often serves to make the occasion more memorable.
Australia’s Wine Industry in Figures & the Problems in Disposing of Trade Waste
Many people might be aware that Australia is among the major producers of wine in the world. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australia produced about 1.23 billion litres of beverage wine in 2012-13. Compared to the 1.18 billion litres of wine produced in 2008-09, the figures for 2012-13 represent a four percent increase in wine production.
The increase in wine production also results in the generation of large volumes of wine waste. This waste comprises liquid waste as well as solid waste. Researchers have revealed that the volumes of wastewater generated by different wineries tends to vary across wineries. However, they concluded that every ton of grapes crushed resulted in the production of approximately three to five kilolitres of wastewater.
Given the volumes of grapes that workers crush in Australian wineries each year, the total volume of wastewater produced by the Australian wine industry would probably be in the order of about five to nine billion litres.
What Does Wine Waste Typically Comprise?
Winery solid waste products typically comprise:
- Marc i.e. skins and seeds left over after the fermenting and pressing of the grapes
- Bunch stalks, usually derived from the rachis of grapes and,
- Various solids associated with the winemaking process
Similarly, winery trade waste usually arises from cleaning operations within the winery. This is why it will usually comprise:
- Grape juice
- Suspended solids (solely in the vintage season) and,
- Various cleaning agents such as caustic soda (NaOH), caustic potash (KOH) etc.
Many wineries often end up stockpiling their winery solid waste products. Thereafter, they compost it onsite. Sometimes, they usually mix some organically composted cow manure to it. This results in the formation of an organic soil ameliorant. Wineries re-use this in their vineyards, thereby reducing their carbon footprint.
The Impact of Winery Effluent on the Environment
Dealing with the winery wastewater though, is not as straightforward a process. This is why many wineries in South Australia rigorously implement the guidelines issued by SA Water. It is worth noting that the greater the volume of wine that wineries produce, the greater will be the volume of liquid waste generated. Some of the most important characteristics of this effluent include its:
- Organic loads
- Suspended solid matter
- pH ratio i.e. acidity to alkalinity
- Salinity and sodicity and,
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dumping this wastewater into the drains or streams will have an adverse effect on the environment. For instance, discharging organic loads into the water will deplete oxygen levels in the water. This will lead to the death of fish and other aquatic organisms. Similarly, winery wastewater could have extreme pH ranges. Therefore, dumping it down the drain could lead to the death of aquatic organisms. It might affect the growth of crops as well.
How Do Wineries Deal with the Wastewater They Produce?
Wineries recognise the importance of recycling and re-using waste. Therefore, they often develop procedures for sampling and monitoring their wastewater, soil and groundwater. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prescribes that wineries use independent qualified professionals for carrying out this monitoring activity at regular intervals.
Wineries will usually vary the treatment of their wastewater based on its characteristics. Therefore, they will:
- Use screens, sumps, filters, sedimentation and air (or chemically) assisted flotation for disposing of high suspended solids present in the wastewater
- Create conditions amenable for anaerobic digestion that results in breaking down organic into sugars, organic acids and gases
- Create conditions to aid aerobic digestion whereby microbes and algae to digest organic matter and release carbon dioxide, water and heat
- Dilute or evaporate effluents with high salt or chemical content
- Use chemical treatments, filtration or reverse osmosis for reducing salt and chemical loads in effluents
- Add lime or recycled caustic for adjusting the pH value of wastewater
- Utilise aerobic and anaerobic treatment (along with constructing wetlands) for trapping high nutrient content and converting it into gas or plant matter
It is worth noting that SA Water requires wineries to keep sewage from toilets away from winery wastewater streams. Failure to do this could result in contaminating the wastewater with harmful pathogens. If this happens, wineries would need to use specialised measures for treating the water. Doing this will result in disinfecting the waste.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with Nitschke’s Winery Wastewater Services
Wineries often need to transport and treat large volumes of wastewater. For this, they need a service provider par excellence. With over 20 years of experience in the business, Nitschke Liquid Waste specialises in handling large-scale tank cleanouts and deal with all winery waste.
As an EPA licensed company in particular, we have the ability and tanker volume to meet your demands especially during vintage. For instance, we can transport approximately 14,000 litres of winery wastewater at a time. We transport this to a treatment facility in Nairne, South Australia. The workers at this plant treat the water and re-use the nutrient-rich content in their vineyards.
From the treatment of wine wastewater to pH adjustment, we do it all. With us, you can expect the highest levels of service at the most affordable rates. Call us at 8260 7660 for more details.