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Wastewater Systems and Laundry Operations (Part 2)

A look at how wastewater systems improve operations

CHICAGO — The past 10 years have seen an extensive expansion of water reuse treatment systems.

Water reuse systems have been applied to centralized and decentralized scales, and water has been reused for a wide range of activities, such as agricultural/land application, commercial/industrial processes, toilets, and even potable water. 

To keep costs down, industry is shifting focus toward reuse systems that are fully automated, have minimal operator requirements, require few chemicals and use semi-permanent filters.

And as wastewater treatment systems improve, laundry and linen services are making use of them to drive down costs and be more environmentally responsible.

Part 1 examined changes and improvements in systems. This installment of the four-part series looks at how wastewater systems improve laundry operations.


Laundry wastewater systems offer operations many benefits, including reducing water and sewer utility bills through water recycling.

The main objective a wastewater system is to filter water for recycling or to ensure compliance, says Chad Folkerts, vice president of field operations and engineering at Norchem Corp., a chemical solutions/water technologies company based out of Los Angeles. 

“Many operators will look for a filtration system to remove contaminates such as oil and grease of BOD to ensure they meet local limits and regulations,” he says. “Ceramic filtration systems act as a barrier wall to remove oil and grease and FOG (fats, oils  and grease). Most systems will see oil and grease levels below 5ppm and FOG below 50 ppm.”

While treating wastewater for compliance will allow an operator to run their business by complying with local codes and regulations, Folkerts says a properly designed system will have a return on investment to actually recycle the water they are filtering. Ceramic filtration systems will filter 100% of the wastewater and can recycle anywhere from 50% to 99% of the “wastewater.” This will result in significant savings in water and sewer cost and can reduce water heating cost by up to 80%. 

“Operators that are surcharged on specific contaminants such as BOD (biochemical oxygen demand), TSS (total suspended solids), COD (chemical oxygen demand), or TDS (total dissolved solids) can see significant reductions in the surcharges as well with a properly designed system,” he points out. “Some operators have been able to eliminate outsourcing certain textiles that produce contaminates that put them out of compliance with local regulations which reduces operating expense in and improves the bottom line.”

“The major benefit of wastewater treatment systems is the reduction and or elimination of wastewater surcharge or fines,” Jason Sosebee, owner of Industrial Waste Water Services in Cleveland, Georgia, points out. “In some situations, the facility is mandated by their local POTW (publicly owned treatment works) to install a treatment system.”

Eisa Sawyer, marketing director for Kemco Systems, a water and energy technology company in Clearwater, Florida, points out that its wastewater systems have the benefit of recovering valuable resources within the plant as well as the thermal energy required to generate hot water. The patent-pending process Kemco has developed can now recycle a laundry’s wastewater with the ceramic microfiltration and reverse osmosis at high wash aisle temperatures, allowing for huge water savings within the laundry.

“In a competitive laundry market where pennies per pound make an impact, the savings generated from water recycling and thermal energy recovery can be the difference between winning and losing a customer,” she says.

“Customers not only want quality product and cost savings, they are also demanding that their partners are stewards of the environment. By recycling water within the plant, operators can avoid discharging millions of gallons of harmful wastewater into water streams each year.”

Keith Ware, vice president of sales for equipment manufacturer Lavatec Laundry Technology in Beacon Falls, Connecticut, says the reduction of water consumption and the energy to heat water is the largest improvement for laundries using a wastewater system.

“Most recycle systems are installed to lower operating costs and achieve a return on investment,” he says. “Unless mandated to reduce water consumption, these systems are used for the purposes of reducing costs. In many situations, laundries had their total water consumption or wastewater volume capped by POTWs.

“If a plant is at their maximum consumption, the only way to achieve growth is to reduce the water and wastewater volume through recycling.”

For Bob Fesmire, president of Ellis Corp. in Itasca, Illinois, a manufacturer of washing technology with a wastewater division, there are two main questions to answer when a laundry operation installs a water treatment system: Will the system keep me in compliance now and in the near future? What ancillary benefits can I get from this system such as the recapture of as much heat out of the wastewater before it is discharged and/or can this process water be recycled for internal operations and savings? 

“By reclaiming heat from the water, a facility won’t require as much fuel for heating the incoming city water,” he points out. “This can be accomplished using heat exchangers or membrane systems. If a membrane system is used, the filtrate can be recycled within the plant, thus drastically reducing the amount of city water feeding the plant, in addition to water heat capture.”

To read Part 1 on changes and improvements in systems, click HERE. Part 3, about adding a system or upgrading, will be available Tuesday.

Wastewater Systems and Laundry Operations

A major benefit of wastewater treatment systems is the reduction and or elimination of wastewater surcharge or fines. (Photo: Industrial Waste Water Services)

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].