Buderim Ginger—benefits of eco-efficiency continue to trickle through
Buderim Ginger sorting
Buderim Ginger is Australia’s largest producer of processed ginger products. Located in the Sunshine Coast’s hinterland, the factory processes around 5,000 tonnes of raw ginger per annum and employs over 200 people. They provide products to local and international confectionary, beverage and food industries as well as supermarkets and other retailers.
Complementing the ginger processing facility is the popular tourist attraction, The Ginger Factory. This tourist attraction has over seven acres of irrigated tropical gardens and a restaurant and is visited by more than 400,000 tourists per annum.
Before joining ecoBiz in 2004, Buderim Ginger had put in place a range of projects to reduce their energy consumption. These projects included updating their steam boilers and air conditioners used for the crystalisation of ginger. A heat recovery system had also been installed on one of their distilling tanks.
With the help of ecoBiz, they built on these initiatives by installing a range of smart technologies which have further reduced their water and energy consumption and allowed treatment of their wastewater. This in turn has dramatically reduced the company’s overheads, saving them over $355,000 per annum on water, wastewater and energy bills.
Buderim Ginger's trickle filter
Increasing wastewater discharge costs provided Buderim Ginger with a strong incentive to look at new ways of reducing the amount of water they were discharging and the pollutants in this effluent.
With the assistance of an ecoBiz rebate, Buderim Ginger installed a trickle filter system to reduce biological oxygen demand (BOD) and suspended solids (SS) in their wastewater. This filter works by running the wastewater through a bio-film which absorbs the pollutants. It treats 400,000 litres of water each day
The trickle filter system reduced Buderim Ginger’s average SS from 980 mg/L to 208 mg/L, which is less than the average SS levels found in household wastewater. As well as having wastewater that is less toxic and harmful to the environment, Buderim Ginger has reduced their wastewater treatment costs by more than $60,000 a year.
To further refine the wastewater treatment system, Buderim Ginger has just commissioned a dissolved air flotation system to remove solids from the trickle filter system prior to discharge to the sewer.
They are also planning to install a membrane bioreactor plant which will use biological and membrane technology to remove contaminants, including pollutants and pathogenic organisms (such as viruses), from the wastewater rendering it safe enough to use in non-critical areas of the business.
Removing sulphites efficiently
Buderim Ginger processing vat
Buderim Ginger previously used sodium meta-bisulphite in the preservation of ginger to inhibit the growth of bacteria, however, it had to be removed from the ginger before final processing. Previously, Buderim Ginger would flush the sulphite out with copious amounts of hot water. This process was time, water and energy intensive, taking five to eight hours to complete per batch and using more than 6,500 litres of hot water per tonne of ginger.
The resulting wastewater contained high levels of sulphites which break down to form hydrogen sulphide, or rotten egg gas, which can cause issues in the sewer system.
To reduce the amount of water and the energy used in heating the water, as well as limiting the amount of sulphites entering the wastewater, Buderim Ginger pioneered an ozone treatment system.
The ozone treatment system allows Buderim Ginger to reuse this water a number of times and, with a heat exchange unit, it also captures and reuses heat from the waste water.
Costing Buderim Ginger $600,000 to set up, the new ozone system reduces the amount of water used each year by 22 megalitres (which in turn limits the amount of water to trade waste), and reduces the amount of natural gas used by 5,500 gigajoules.
To reduce the amount of power being used for drying ginger, Buderim Ginger installed a new automatic control system to manage air temperature and humidity.
The new system manages air temperature and humidity in the room by varying the fan speed as required. It also shuts down two of the fans after hours. Previously, the area was ventilated by manual operator control which meant the fans ran at full speed, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The new automatic control system cost $40,000 to install but is saving the company $33,000 per annum in energy costs.
What’s next for Buderim Ginger?
Buderim Ginger is putting in place a number of new initiatives to further reduce their water and energy consumption. This includes installing new water tanks and a new evaporator which will concentrate their syrup more efficiently. They are also planning on installing a membrane bioreactor which will further treat their wastewater.
- Annual savings 22 per cent
- Annual savings water 24 per cent
- Annual savings waste 29 per cent
- Annual savings greenhouse gas emissions 10 per cent