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Why Wineries Need Specialists for Dealing with Winery Waste

The Australian wine industry produces several thousand tonnes of red and white grape marc each year. Grape marc refers to the solid waste that remains after crushing the juice from the grapes. This could typically comprise skins, seeds and stalks. Grape marc possesses about 15 to 30 percent of the weight of the grapes used for making wine. As such, the disposal of the enormous quantities of grape marc each year presents a considerable challenge to the Australian wine industry. Equally significant is the challenge of dealing with the trade waste that wineries typically generate.

The state of South Australia is one of the leading wine producing hubs in the country. In July, the University of Adelaide shared a report stating that a new research project was commencing, whereby the researchers would be looking for ways to improve the processing of grape marc for fortifying wines. In addition, the researchers would explore means by which they would be able to raise the production of alcohol from grape marc, for use in spirits such as brandy.

How Wineries Typically Deal with Solid Wine Waste

The wineries in South Australia are aware of the challenges that arise when dealing with the leftover marc. White grapes, when pressed before fermentation, typically produce moist, sticky and sugar-rich pomace (or marc). Red wine ferments on the skins, before wine producers press it. This produces drier marc that contains high amounts of alcohol instead of sugar.

Winery waste does not make good feed for livestock. This is because it does not offer much by way of nutrition. In addition, cattle will find marc difficult to digest. For instance, alfalfa hay is 70 percent digestible by livestock, while marc is only 30 percent digestible. Moreover, the livestock typically consume the marc when it is fresh. Given the enormous volumes that wineries churn out during the peak season, feeding the grape marc to the livestock is not a viable solution. This is why some wineries sell their solid waste to companies that mill grape- seed oil from the seeds or strip tartaric acid from the skins.

One of the most common methods of dealing with wine waste involves composting. But, grape marc typically contains an assortment of phenols and other anti-microbial compounds. These typically hinder bacterial decomposition. Therefore, wineries often use vermicomposting for breaking down the phenols present in the marc. Composting with worms produces organic matter. The winery owners could use this matter in soil mixes for the garden or the farm.

The Challenges that Wineries Face When Dealing with Liquid Waste

Dealing with winery wastewater is an even bigger challenge for wineries. Producing wine often involves washing the facilities regularly. Naturally, give the size of these facilities, the enormous volumes of wastewater produced is easily imaginable. Letting this wastewater go untreated into the sewers can be problematic in itself, simply because of the volumes of wastewater involved. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges wineries to treat their wastewater appropriately to prevent any adverse impact on the environment.

Wine wastewater also comprises sugar, which could result in algal blooms. This typically occurs when the proliferation of algae increases with the presence of extra nutrients in the water. Algal blooms can cause a considerable amount of damage to the aqueous ecosystems. This is why wineries need to degrade the biological elements in the winery wastewater for producing re-usable water.

Liquid winery waste will typically have extreme pH ranges. In other words, this effluent could be highly acidic in nature. In many cases, it will contain a high volume of organic loads as well. Dumping these organic loads into the water would result in the depletion of oxygen levels in the water. As a result, any fish and other aquatic organisms present in the water would perish soon. To ensure that the wastewater from the wineries has minimal impact on the environment, SA Water has provided wineries in the region with various guidelines.

What are the Typical Trade Waste Production Stages at Wineries in Australia?

The wastewater production stages at these wineries typically comprises:

  • The Pre-Harvest Stage: During this phase, bottling takes place. Wineries wash out the tanks and other equipment with sodium or potassium hydroxide. This phase lasts from one to four weeks.
  • The Early Harvest Stage: This two-to-three week period sees a drastic increase in the production of liquid waste. White wine production reaches its height.
  • The Peak Harvest Stage: Lasting from three to 14 weeks, this phase sees wastewater generation and harvest activities reach their zenith
  • The Late Harvest Stage: During this two-to-six week phase, the production of wastewater decreases. Red wine production reaches its peak
  • The Post-Harvest Stage: This phase lasts from six to 12 weeks. It witnesses the maximum use of hydroxide, as the pre-fermentation activities conclude.
  • The Final Stage: This 10-to-20 week phase witnesses the production of the lowest amounts of wastewater

Signal Waste and Recycling – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Licensed Specialists in Providing Winery Wastewater Services

Small wineries produce about 1.5 million litres of wastewater annually, while medium-to-large units generate even higher volumes of wastewater. Wineries throughout the state comply with the guidelines issued by SA Water. However, the handling, removal and transport of winery wastewater is a specialised area. This is why you need a service provider with the appropriate experience and the equipment to handle any assignment involving the disposal of winery waste.

Since 1989, Signal Waste & Recycling has been providing a diverse and cost effective range of products and services. We can clean tanks of all sizes. We specialise in the pH adjustment and treatment of winery waste. In addition, we can offer prompt service during the peak season as well. Moreover, if you require services such as grease trap cleaning to recycling commercial waste, we could help with that as well. Call us at 08 8162 5544 to receive your free quote today.