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Environmentally friendly cleaning operations

The literature defines that cleaning operations can account for up to 70% of a food and beverage manufacturing site’s total water use and effluent volume, and can be also responsible for a significant portion of a site’s energy use. For instance, in the dairy sector, it has been reported that more than half of a typical milk processing plant is devoted to cleaning equipment and pipes.

This best practice describes how the best performing manufacturers implement environmentally friendly practices in their cleaning operations so as to reduce water consumption and energy use or to use more environmentally friendly chemicals. Two types of cleaning are considered in this best practice:

  1. Cleaning processes during the preparation of raw materials prior to production, and;
  2. Cleaning of production equipment between batches or recipes.

These types of cleaning operations can be very intensive in their use of water, energy and chemicals and practical ways that optimise their use can be implemented:

  • implementing and optimising ‘Cleaning In Place’ (CIP) systems by optimal cleaning preparation (e.g. ice pigging), accurate design and configuration, measuring and controlling detergent temperature and concentration, using mechanical action appropriately, reusing final rinse water for the pre-rinse, recycling detergents, and by using real-time cleaning verification,
  • optimising manual cleaning operations by raising awareness, monitoring the energy, water and chemicals used, dry clean-up and cleaning of equipment as soon as possible after use,
  • minimising or avoiding the use of harmful chemicals by capturing and reusing cleaning agents and using less harmful and biological chemicals,
  • better production planning in order to avoid changes in the production process that require the equipment to be cleaned,
  • better plant design by improving the design of vessels, pipework, etc. so as to eliminate areas that detergent cannot reach or where fluid accumulates.

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