The World Bank

Fruit and Vegetable Processing Industry - Pollution Prevention Guidelines


Courtesy of The World Bank


Pollution Prevention Guidelines to provide technical advice and guidance to staff and consultants involved in pollution-related projects. The guidelines represent state-of-the-art thinking on how to reduce pollution emissions from the production process. In many cases, the guidelines provide numerical targets for reducing pollution, as well as maximum emissions levels that are normally achievable through a combination of cleaner production and end-of-pipe treatment. The guidelines are designed to protect human health; reduce mass loadings to the environment; draw on commercially proven technologies; be cost-effective; follow current regulatory trends; and promote good industrial practices, which offer greater productivity and increased energy efficiency.

Table of Contents

  • Industry Description and Practices
  • Waste Characteristics
  • Pollution Prevention and Control
  • Target Pollution Loads
  • Treatment Technologies
  • Emissions Guidelines
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Key Issues
  • Sources

Industry Description and Practices

Processing (canning, drying, freezing, and preparation of juices, jams, and jellies) increases the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Processing steps include preparation of the raw material (cleaning, trimming, and peeling followed by cooking, canning, or freezing. Plant operation is often seasonal. Waste Characteristics

The fruit and vegetable industry typically generates large volumes of effluents and solid waste. The effluents contain high organic loads, cleansing and blanching agents, salt, and suspended solids such as fibers and soil particles. They may also contain pesticide residues washed from the raw materials. The main solid wastes are organic materials, including discarded fruits and vegetables. Odor problems can occur with poor management of solid wastes and effluents; when onions are processed; and when ready-to-serve meals are prepared.

Pollution Prevention and Control

Reductions in wastewater volumes of up to 95% have been reported through implementation of good practices. Where possible, measures such as the following should be adopted:

  • Procure clean raw fruit and vegetables, thus reducing the concentration of dirt and organics (including pesticides) in the effluent.
  • Use dry methods such as vibration or air jets to clean raw fruit and vegetables. Dry peeling methods reduce the effluent volume (by up to 35%) and pollutant concentration (organic load
    reduced by up to 25%).
  • Separate and recirculate process wastewaters.
  • Use countercurrent systems where washing is necessary.
  • Use steam instead of hot water to reduce the quantity of wastewater going for treatment (taking into consideration, however, the tradeoff with increased use of energy).
  • Minimize the use of water for cleaning floors and machines.
  • Remove solid wastes without the use of water.
  • Reuse concentrated wastewaters and solid wastes for production of by-products.

As an example, recirculation of process water from onion preparation reduces the organic load by 75% and water consumption by 95%. Similarly, the liquid waste load (in terms of biochemical oxygen demand, BOD) from apple juice and carrot processing can be reduced by 80%. Good water management should be adopted, where feasible, to achieve the levels of consumption presented in Table 1. Solid wastes, particularly from processes such as peeling and coring, typically have a high nutritional value and may be used as animal feed.

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