When Humberto Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx set out to develop a truly green, biodegradable disinfectant he worked around one principle: “Our thinking, saying and doing must be in sync.” Even in those early years Rodrigues realised that one of the challenges for Biodx, in keeping with this philosophy would be the way they dispose of the effluent from their manufacturing plant.
Today, together with Professor Craig Sheridan, Professor of Engineering at Wits University and a team of wetland specialists, Biodx are well on their way starting construction on their artificial wetland at their plant in Modderfontein which will treat approximately 2000 litres of plant wash down daily.
There are three areas of effluent that needed to be addressed: the direct effluent produced from the reverse osmosis purification system for water used in the manufacturing process; the washing down of the plant post production, entailing cleaning the floors and pipes and finally the washing out of the returned Flow bins used to distribute the product.
The purpose of this wash down process is to remove the quaternary ammonium compounds and the juice used in the production process, degrade them and produce water that can then be released either into the sewer system or the storm water system.
The project, currently under construction, should be up and running around May 2018. According to Dr Mark Kelly, Research Director at Biodx, “One of the prime drivers behind the business is to reduce our environmental impact. We could have taken a quicker route, which most industries do to get rid of their waste but by creating a wetland we’re doing so much more.
“Wetlands themselves are environmentally positive, attracting birdlife and introducing indigenous flora to the area and with correct management will go a long way towards our environmental cradle to grave responsibility ethos. Most industrial environments are dirty, noisy and objectionable – we feel this project will contribute to a very different view of industry.
“We’ve looked at all aspects of responsible manufacturing including recycling packaging and using renewable energy sources in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint whilst increasing our contribution to environmental sustainability.”
Artificial wetlands themselves are not new to commercial and industrial projects and have been used internationally for around 30 years but are still relatively new to South Africa.
Concludes Rodrigues, “This is yet another milestone that Biodx will achieve towards the wellbeing of our environment.”