How to Reuse of Water in Leather Manufacturing Industries?
From the water needed to grow animals, to the water used in tanning and finishing operation, the leather tanning business is one of the most water-intensive industries across the globe. The business is also known for the wastewater it creates, which may include a lot of pollutants.
Leather tanning industries has been criticized over the years for its role in environmental damage, particularly when it comes to water contamination. Water is a precious resource that is essential for the existence of all living things, as well as agriculture and industry.
Agriculture consumes the most water globally, accounting for about 69 percent, followed by industry (19%) and households (12%). It is also an important component in the creation of leather. But there's only so much water, and data suggests that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population would be living in water-stressed areas if present consumption trends continue.
Leather industries utilize a lot of water in the tanning process, which includes very alkaline and highly acidic combinations, chromium salts, and sulphide, therefore the possibility of harmful compounds leaking into rivers has piqued the interest of industry opponents.
Many aqueous processes with discontinuous outputs are used in the treatment of hides, resulting in large volumes of effluents that require costly and time-consuming treatment to meet emission requirements set by national and international regulations.
Leather Industries – Water footprint
The entire quantity of direct and indirect water used in a tannery's process is known as its water footprint.
The blue water footprint, which indicates the quantity of surface and groundwater used by the tannery, is one of the most important components. Then there's the green water footprint, which is the quantity of rainfall needed, and the grey water footprint, which is the amount of freshwater needed to mix and dilute contaminants to keep water quality within set parameters.
The conditioning and preparation of the hide for tanning, as well as the transportation and fixation of tanning ingredients, all require water at a tannery. The dispersion of chemical compounds and the extraction of unwanted elements from the hide are usually done using fresh water. As a result, local fresh water resources are severely depleted. Even if one ignores the water utilized in raising of cattle, the sector has a considerable water footprint.
Water use in the leather industry is estimated to be over 400 billion liters per year worldwide.
All of these variables can be controlled once they've been measured. The industry is responsible for implementing best-practice technology and water management approaches, but this can only be done effectively if the scope and details of the problem are thoroughly understood.
Reduce, recycle and reuse: The 3R’s
In an era of growing drought and water scarcity, a water-intensive company cannot afford to ignore water recycling and reuse, which may drastically cut water use.
The leather sector is acutely conscious of the need to make better use of this valuable resource in order to comply with legislative requirements or recommendations, as well as its own search for sustainability. Its efforts have paid off and, thanks to new processes and technology innovations, it has reduced its water footprint by more than 35% in the past 25 years.
Water conservation strategies such as rainwater collecting for manufacturing, reuse of water used internally during production, and extending reuse to whole facilities have helped some firms minimize water consumption by up to 50%.
If the industry is serious about improving resource efficiency, both for reasons of environmental management and cost reduction, then water use must be near the top of the list of priorities.
A number of things have already been done, many of them for several decades already. The reuse of wastewater is the most important notion among these.
1. Tanning, the hide right after slaughter is one approach to save water in the leather industry. Fresh hides also minimize the amount of salt in the effluent.
2. Switch from flowing water to batch washing; a closed drum (with a more efficient design) eliminates the need for a continuous flow. Savings are considerable because this procedure uses 30-50 percent of the water. The drums' smart shape also eliminates the need for extensive cleaning and makes residue removal easy.
3. Water utilization may be considerably decreased by minimizing the quantity of float, (water) that hides are soaked in and enhancing chemical efficiency. It's crucial to figure out the best way to apply chemicals.
4. Process water may be recycled and reused, thanks to smarter drums and wastewater treatment technologies that allow effluent to be removed and water to be reused and recycled in processes. This is already being done in most countries and many tanneries in underdeveloped countries, and it can save a lot of money.
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