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Wastewater Systems and Laundry Operations (Part 3)

How laundries can add a system or upgrade current process

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 of the four-part series examined changes and improvements in systems, and Part 2 looked at how wastewater systems improve laundry operations. This installment covers how laundries can add or upgrade systems.


Laundries that can benefit from a water recycling system are those that that seek expansion but have limited sized supply lines, have high water and sewer utility costs, or have regulatory restrictions that require reuse.

Installation at a facility typically requires 50 to 100 square feet of floor area and water line connections from the greywater source to the washing machines and to the sewer.

When looking at upgrading or installing all new equipment, Jason Sosebee, owner of Industrial Waste Water Services in Cleveland, Georgia, says it is important to find a reputable company with a proven track record in the treatment of industrial laundry wastewater.

“There are many different equipment suppliers out there, with a wide range of equipment, so be sure that whoever you are dealing with knows through experience what goes into treating laundry wastewater,” he cautions.

“Another important step is contacting the company’s references in the laundry industry. Just because a vendor specializes in wastewater treatment, don’t assume they know what they are doing when it comes to industrial laundry applications.”

When considering a new wastewater system, Bob Fesmire, president of Ellis Corp. in Itasca, Illinois, a manufacturer of washing technology with a wastewater division, says the most important factors are 1) Am I now in compliance? 2) Am I able to get additional benefit from my investment (heat capture/process water recycling) and maximize an ROI? 3) Do I have the people to properly run the system or is the system user friendly enough to be run properly with current staff? 4) Can I use this as proof of green practices in my marketing program?

Eisa Sawyer, marketing director for Kemco Systems, a water and energy technology company in Clearwater, Florida, sees three major considerations when evaluation and investing in wastewater recycling systems.

The first is the combined cost of water and wastewater within the plant. As the combined costs of water and sewer increase, as well as the presence of surcharges and fines, the return on a wastewater system is typically accelerated.

The second is the flow rate of the plant as it stands today. High-flow plants often have the greatest benefit when considering water recycling systems. The third is the outlook for plant growth. Being able to design a system that is built around future capacity is critical.

“Oftentimes we are asked by clients to design in surplus capacity or expandability in order to reduce the cost of future expansion,” she says. “With these three concepts in consideration, the picture becomes clearer and you are prepared for action.”

Keith Ware, vice president of sales for equipment manufacturer Lavatec Laundry Technology in Beacon Falls, Connecticut, says looking into installing or upgrading a wastewater system involves a complicated discussion. Many users need to consider what they are attempting to achieve with their recycle system.

“The lowering of consumption, reduction of heating costs, reducing waste stream, BOD (biochemical oxygen demand), COD (chemical oxygen demand), and TDS (total dissolved solids) could be a reason to recycle,” he says. “What type of linen are you processing? Healthcare, which has different issues than light hospitality (i.e., sheets and towels).

“With food and beverage, it is difficult to recycle the water due to the high volume of food and grease that can block or reduce the recyclability to remove these from the recycled water. These also act as a food source allowing the recycle system to breed bacteria, which can cause the system to go septic, creating a bad odor in the recycled water.”

Ware points out that is vital for an operation to know its true water consumption in order to be able to measure the savings generated by the recycle system.

“Often clients are told how much they are saving, but this does not match the actual water bills in terms of overall reduction,” he shares. “If you elect to install a recycle system on a tunnel washer or washer-extractor line, put in a water meter for that particular complement of equipment, then run the system for two to three months to get your actual consumption on gallons per pound.”

Once an operation installs a recycle system, Ware says it should be able to compare consumption and determine if the results have been met.

“Some should avoid recycle systems that utilize extremely low water consumption,” he points out. “If the TDS on your current wastewater is 3,000-plus, your recycle system will not get you down to the 500-600 level required by most chemical companies. This will lead to potential graying of the linen, quality problems and possible odors in the linen itself.”

“Operators expanding or building new facilities will want to investigate impact fees or connection fees,” shares Chad Folkerts, vice president of field operations and engineering at Norchem Corp., a chemical solutions/water technologies company based out of Los Angeles. “Often times there is a fee associated with increasing the volume of water or units of water supplied to, or discharged from a facility.  This can often be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

“The installation of a water recycling system can often mitigate those additional cost and pay for the system before it is even running.”

To read Part 1 on changes and improvements in systems, click HERE. Access Part 2 on how wastewater systems improve laundry operations HERE. Check back next Tuesday for the conclusion on the future of wastewater systems.

Wastewater Systems and Laundry Operations

CTC says systems like its Twin Ultra™ Greywater Recycling System recycles 70 to 90% of greywater. (Photo: Concurrent Technologies Corp.)

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