Waste Management in the Wine Industry

First up, it would be remiss of me not to say that the wine industry as a whole is pretty good when it comes to the responsible removal of wastes it produces. Wine is a natural product and the industry tries to keep the use of agrochemicals to a minimum. But as with any large scale production there are certain issues, which need to be dealt with. Here is a general overview of waste management in the wine industry.

Waste Management in the Wine Industry

The number one priority is the chromated copper arsenate and creosote posts in the vineyard. These are strong potential toxic pollutants in the soil and when getting rid of old fence posts it usually calls for controlled landfill sites, as these sites are lined to prevent seepage into the surrounding water table. Burning of these treated posts is very dangerous for those in the vicinity who may breathe in the toxic fumes. The wine industry is investigating safe alternative waste management solutions for these treated posts.

Winery wastewater is a more constant issue that fluctuates from heavy production during vintage to more moderate levels in non-vintage periods. The biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and the total suspended solids (TSS) of the winery wastewater can vary greatly depending on season and type of winery activities undertaken. The pH levels of winery wastewater also fluctuate according to activities happening at the winery. High pH levels occur during the cleaning operations after fermentation. This is often when winery pollutants are at their highest ratio. Currently in most regions winery wastewater is not treated separately, but there have been several reports into the projected efficacy of doing this.

If certain oxidation ponds were reserved for winery wastewater during the peak production periods of vintage, more effective treatment of the chemical wastes could be achieved. The use of an anaerobic digester has also been looked into, specifically for winery wastewater. This would involve higher strength wastewaters of no less than 20 000mg/1 BOD being injected into the anaerobic digester. Understanding limited digester capacity would be important during high production times in season.

Plastic packaging waste during packing operations is another waste that needs to be dealt with by the appropriate waste management provider. Different types of waste management must be recognised and allocated to the various specialists. Caustic cleaners need to be disposed of in this way, as do any other chemicals that have reached the end of their lives. There are great opportunities for recycling of solid grape waste matter and these can be explored by the individual wineries in their locales.