Dr Pepper Snapple tackles wastewater at Texas bottling plant

Dr Pepper Snapple tackles wastewater at Texas bottling plant

BioViper wastewater pretreatment system image courtesy of Baswood.

For many companies, the sheer size and cost of wastewater treatment systems can be a huge turnoff. But Dr Pepper Snapple Group, with the help of two Hollywood stars, is charging ahead with a new system that addresses what is often a dirty job with huge overhead costs.

The food and beverage giant announced in March that it has installed a new state-of-the art wastewater treatment system called the BioViper at its bottling plant in Houston, Texas. The system, designed by a company called Baswood, is physically smaller and more energy efficient than many systems on the market. The smaller size may help companies build pretreatment facilities on their existing property, driving down cost.

For DPS, the installation of the system made financial as well as environmental sense.

"This was a clear opportunity to reduce the costs associated with treating our wastewater," said Tim Gratto, vice president of sustainability at DPS. "But as with many decisions that are cost-driven, installing this system had clear environmental benefits."

Baswood was co-founded by actor Woody Harrelson, and is chaired by actor Edward Norton. Although the company hasn't benefited directly from their star power, their commitment and support has helped, said Baswood CEO Michael Walker.

"Both Edward and Woody have been instrumental in bringing the Baswood technology to marketplace," said Walker. "Woody and Edward have always been very results-oriented and have pushed the management team to deliver on the prospects of the Baswood technology."

While both DPS and Baswood declined to reveal the cost of purchasing and installing the system, BioViper is touted as having a significantly lower lifecycle cost than other systems. The combination of Baswood's various patented technologies -- including its Dry Cycle Aerobic/Anaerobic Digestion, or DCAD, technology -- allows the system to use 40 percent less energy to operate than traditional digestion systems and 25 percent less energy than competitors, said Bill Faulds, Baswood's executive vice president. At the same time, the system produces fewer solids, reducing the need for running water through a second time, which can save thousands of gallons of water.  

Another bonus is that the water entering the sewerage system will be much cleaner after treatment, reducing the burden on the city of Houston's municipal treatment system.

BioViper, which was created by microbiologist Paul Baskis, was inspired by the way bacteria behaves in rivers. The system is made up of three treatment units through which water passes. Each unit has three distinct zones that encourage the development of various biocultures that treat the water. By the time the water has passed through the third unit, it will have been treated nine times.  

This isn't DPS's first foray into wastewater treatment. Since the early 1990s, the company's Aspers, Pa. plant, which produces brands such as Snapple, Mott's and Clamato, has treated millions of gallons of wastewater with its wastewater treatment plant, said Gratto.

The company's operations put a lot of pressure on Aspers' municipal wastewater treatment system.

"The local, publicly owned municipal water treatment couldn't handle the wastewater coming from our facility so we built our own wastewater treatment plant to ensure that we could meet environmental and production demands," said Gratto.

DPS also has similar onsite wastewater treatment capabilities at its production facilities in Williamson, N.Y., and Tehuacan, Mexico.

Going forward, the company is currently designing and developing more units to be used at other Dr Pepper Snapple locations, as well as other major food and beverage manufacturers.

Here are four tips from Baswood for companies considering wastewater treatment:

• Understand the true lifecycle cost of the technology you are evaluating, as it will have a much greater impact long term than the upfront capital expenditure cost.

• Adopt a profit center mentality when addressing wastewater.

• Look for ways in which you can reuse your wastewater within your facility, such as cooling towers, sanitation and so on.

• Ask for treatment guarantees, such as water quality levels a system is guaranteed to achieve in order to meet wastewater discharge standards.

BioViper wastewater pretreatment system image courtesy of Baswood