Dr Pepper Snapple tackles wastewater at Texas bottling plant

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.

Next page: Inspired by bacteria