Waste Management for Sugar Factories in Kenya

Waste Management for Sugar Factories in Kenya

Waste management for sugar factories in Kenya has been a topic of discussion in many forums for quite a while now in the country. That is because of the negative effect on the environment if poorly managed and the immense benefits if properly managed.

Almost every byproduct in cane sugar processing has a beneficial use. But the benefits derived from these byproducts will depend on how well the waste is managed and treated.

This article will discuss the various waste materials from sugar processing factories and how they are managed to ensure maximum benefits. Join us through the article to understand the waste produced by the sugar in your tea and how it is treated.

Table of Contents

Most people only interact with sugar at the consumer level. That is from the shelves to the teacup. But have you wondered how sugar is processed and what waste the process leaves behind?

There are two types of waste in sugar factories, solid and liquid.

Solid waste in sugar factories is mainly comprised of molasses, bagasse, and press mud. They are the solids that have not dissolved. They constitute the most significant sugar waste and are primarily used as raw materials in other industries.

Liquid waste in sugar factories comes from several activities. The wastewater mostly comes from the processes necessary to keep the mill clean and clean the cane. Wastewater can also be from the machinery and equipment used in manufacturing, as explained later.

Solid Waste Management for Sugar Factories in Kenya

As we have said above, solid waste in sugar factories is mostly molasses, bagasse, and press mud. Each of these waste products is not primarily considered waste since it is helpful in other industries in making different products.

Most sugar factories process these byproducts or sell them to other industries as raw materials. Processing or selling are beneficial ways of solid waste management for sugar factories in Kenya.

To understand this waste management process, we should first learn about the different uses of these waste materials:

1. Bagasse

Bagasse is the fibrous matter left after crushing sugarcane to extract the juice. Typically, bagasse comprises 30-40% of fibre. It contains cellulose – 45%, hemicelluloses – 25%, lignin – 24%, ash – 5%, and waxes – 1%. Every 10 tonnes of crushed cane produces 3 tonnes of bagasse. Whether it will be kept wet or dried will depend on its subsequent use.

Management of bagasse in sugar factories

The management of bagasse in sugar factories means how the byproduct will be used after the sugar juice has been extracted. The following are the uses of bagasse:

  • Electricity generation. It is done through a process known as cogeneration. The sugar factory can produce electricity to supplement its energy requirements or sell bagasse to other factories for power generation.
  • Source of fuel for the sugar factory. Bagasse can be dried and used as fuel for the many boilers that use fire in the sugar production process.
  • Substitute for plywood, furniture, and partitions. Bagasse can be utilized as a cheaper alternative to wood to make wood-related items like furniture.
  • Mushroom cultivation. The 45% cellulose in bagasse is an essential nutrient in mushroom farming. The farmer uses bagasse as manure for the mushrooms.
  • Production of paper. Bagasse can also be used as pulp to produce paper and related products. It is a cheap alternative to wood pulp.

Electricity generation using bagasse should be highly encouraged as a way of solid waste management for sugar factories in Kenya. It will cater to the factory’s power needs and supply any excess to the national grid.

2. Molasses

Molasses is a thick dark brown sugar factory byproduct that is always in high demand. It comprises 45 %uncrystallized, fermentable sugar and some sucrose. Molasses is among the fastest-selling byproducts in a sugar factory, and sometimes it is even more in demand than processed sugar.

Uses of Molasses

The following are the ways molasses is utilized:

  • Distillation. Molasses is widely used in the distillation process to produce rectified spirit, denatured spirit, and alcohol/ethanol. The process produces drinking alcohol and pure clinical alcohol, which is used as an antiseptic. The alcohol and ethanol produced can also be used in several other ways, like fuel for engines and making chemicals, paints, perfumes, and deodorants.
  • Food sweetener. Since molasses has a lot of sugar, it can be used to sweeten and flavour foods like cookies, pies, gingerbread, and others.
  • Feed for animals. Molasses is also used as feed for farm animals. Most dairy farmers mix molasses with hey for increased milk production.
  • Tobacco smoking. Molasses is added to some types of tobacco, like hookah and shisha, to increase their flavour.

Apart from the uses mentioned above, molasses has many other benefits in many industries. That is why it is considered a super byproduct instead of a waste material.

3. Press mud

Press mud or filter cake is another sugar factory byproduct. It is estimated that every 100 tonnes of crushed cane generate 3 tonnes of press mud. That means it is generated in lesser quantities than bagasse or molasses. Press mud is rich in micro and micronutrients as well as organic carbon. It is used mainly in composting and in making organic fertilizer.

Uses of press mud

The following are the ways in which filter cake can be utilized:

  • Making organic manure. If press mud is mixed with other organic materials in the preparation of manure or composting, it helped to increase the quality of the organic manure.
  • Increasing cane yields. When press mud is added to other biofertilizers, it leads to increased sugar cane yields.
  • Saves money. Since filter cake can be readily used back in the cane farm, it will save the sugar factory the money it would use in its treatment and disposal.
  • Improving soil quality. The micro and macronutrients available in press mud improve the pH value of the soil making it more useful for farming activities.

Composting in solid waste management for sugar factories in Kenya

Composting can also be used as a way of solid waste management for sugar factories in Kenya. Sugar cane leaves, bagasse, press mud, and molasses can all be used as compost materials. Although we have seen that these sugar byproducts can b utilized in several other ways, you have to know that any further utilization means extra machinery, equipment, personnel, and infrastructure. That means further processing of these byproducts needs additional investments which the sugar factory may not be able to afford.

Although a sugar factory can sell these byproducts to other processing factories, they are still viewed as waste, which means they fetch a low price from third parties. To avoid that, composting is encouraged as an alternative way of solid waste management for sugar factories in Kenya.

The following are the reasons why composting is a good method of solid waste management for sugar factories in Kenya:

  • Lots of sugarcane waste by-products are handled through composting, which greatly lightens the processing burden of sugar factories. Composting technology significantly reduces environmental pollution and achieves resource utilization.
  • A huge possibility of sugarcane industry waste can be used in agriculture to cut down the fertilizer requirement and save the cost of chemical fertilizers. It can also be used in combination with inorganic chemical fertilizers and can be packed and marketed along with commercial fertilizer for a particular cropping system.
  • Sugarcane waste molasses contains many chemical elements: N, P, K, Fe, Zn, Mn, and Cu, which can improve soil structure, increase soil organic matter, promote soil permeability and enhance crop quality and yield.

Composting may sound simple, but for the best results, it should be handled by professionals. That is because sugar factory waste is much more than simple domestic/agricultural waste whereby composting needs a compost pit and a few additional enzymes and microbes.

For large compost facilities or biodigesters for sugar factories in Kenya, contact Biozone, the leading firm in the design and construction of compost facilities and biodigesters in the country.

Liquid/Wastewater Management for Sugar Factories in Kenya

Although a majority of the waste products in a sugar factory are solids, liquid waste is also available. Many sugar factories pay more attention to solid waste and forget that liquid waste is as much of a pollutant and needs special care and attention.

The following are the sources of wastewater in a sugar factory:

  • Millhouse. Continuous gland cooling and floor washing is the biggest source of wastewater in a sugar factory. The wastewater is rich in oils and grease and also sugar spills and leaks.
  • Boiler blow-down. It is the water used to wash and clean boilers. The water is fairly clean but with a lot of dissolved solids and phosphates.
  • Filter cloth. It needs occasional cleaning with the water from the cleaning exercise being waste. The water contains a lot of floating solids and sugar juice.
  • Molasses mixed with water. Leaks from pipes and pumps lead to molasses being mixed with the wash water hence increasing the level of contaminants. Molasses is a mixture of uncrystallized sugar plus other organic matter which means if it dissolves in the wash water, the effluent is a high pollutant to the environment.

Biozone Wastewater Treatment Plant

For better wastewater management for sugar factories in Kenya, you will need to know about the various wastewater treatment options available to you. At Biozone Kenya, we offer consultancy based on the kind of liquid waste you generate so that you may be better placed to have the best Liquid waste treatment plant for your establishment. Biozone offers three alternatives for liquid/water treatment, as explained below:

1. Primary Liquid Waste Treatment plant

Biological treatment is not always the best, or at least not the complete solution to all industrial wastewater applications. The wide range of possible impurities in sugar factory wastewater streams sometimes requires the employment of several physical-chemical treatment steps to remove the contaminants to a level that will allow for the discharge or reuse of the wastewater.

Dissolved contaminants, suspended matter, fats, oils, and grease (FOG) can require other technologies and solutions for effective treatment. For a low-cost sugar factory wastewater treatment plant, consult Biozone Kenya today.

2. Anaerobic Liquid Waste Treatment Plant

In the absence of oxygen, many groups of anaerobic microorganisms work together to decompose organic matter. The microbiology behind the process is more complex and delicate than that of aerobic processes, where most bacteria work individually. It is the main reason why anaerobic systems require greater control and monitoring in order to perform efficiently.

This type of treatment is very effective in the removal of biodegradable organic compounds. It is especially suitable for organic wastes and wastewater streams highly loaded with organic contaminants. It effectively converts them to mostly methane gas and carbon dioxide, with very little excess sludge generation. 

For further inquiries or a quotation on anaerobic wastewater management for sugar factories in Kenya, contact Biozone.

3. Aerobic Liquid Waste Treatment Plant

Highly effective and able to generate very high-quality effluents, aerobic biological wastewater treatment processes were once the solution applied to treat most types of industrial wastewater. Nowadays, with far greater emphasis on energy efficiency and the minimization of residuals (i.e. waste sludge), they are mostly limited to diluted industrial wastewater and municipal applications, and as a polishing step after anaerobic treatment.

However, when strict discharge requirements are present, it is still impossible to design a full biological treatment for any type of wastewater without applying at least one aerobic step. Therefore, our portfolio of technologies also includes a variety of different aerobic treatment systems. This way we are able to offer you a complete range of wastewater treatment solutions able to meet any discharge requirements. For further inquiries on aerobic wastewater management for sugar factories in Kenya, contact Biozone Kenya.

Liquid Waste Treatment Enzymes and Microbes

Biozone Environzyme BFB

The Environzyme BFB is a microbiological combination of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and multi enzymes that break down wastewater to clean effluent. It is a dry free flowing powder that contains a concentrated source of free-flowing hydrolytic enzymes and ten strains of natural bacteria that are capable of producing enzymes in wastewater treatment systems under aerobic and anaerobic conditions.

Whether it is in the Biozone Wastewater Treatment Plants or an existing wastewater treatment plant already in your establishment, the Environzyme BFB is the enzyme and microbial formula you will need to effectively break down and digest organic matter.

The notable advantages of Environzyme BFB are:

  • More volumes will be digested and hence the sludge volume will be reduced.
  • Eradicates bad odour.
  • To pump and dewater the sludge will be easier.
  • The capacity of your treatment will be increased since more organic matter will be digested.
  • The time taken to digest organic matter is less.
  • The treatment system is easily balanced.
  • The aeration stage in the treatment will be faster and more effective.
  • The digesters will perform evenly and uniformly since the organic matter is properly digested.

Importance of Waste Management for Sugar Factories in Kenya

Waste management for sugar factories in Kenya should be strictly enforced. The following are the benefits of proper waste management for sugar factories in Kenya:

  • No environmental pollution. Although a majority of the waste generated by sugar factories is useful in the processing of other products, if it is deposited in the open land without treatment will cause heavy pollution to the environment. The organic matter found in this waste will start decomposing and produce a foul smell which will be bothersome to the surrounding communities.
  • Extra source of income. A majority of the waste from sugar factories can be sold to other industries and hence increase the profits of the sugar factory.
  • Raw materials for other factories. The byproducts of a sugar manufacturing process can be used as raw materials for other factories. That mean s single sugar processing plant will give rise to other related industries hence a source of employment for the surrounding communities.
  • Source of energy. Molasses are used to generate electricity which can be used in the sugar factory or connected to the national grid.
  • Source of organic fertilizers. Bagasse, molasses, and press mud can all be composted to generate organic fertilizers which will help cane farmers or other farmers in crop farming.

FAQs About Waste Management for Sugar Factories in Kenya

What is the waste produced by sugar factories in Kenya?

There are those asking what kind of waste is produced by sugar factories in Kenya. Sugar factory byproducts and wastewater are the main types of waste. The main sugar factory byproducts are bagasse, molasses, and press mud. A big part of these sugar factory byproducts is used in the manufacturing of other products as raw materials.

Does sugar factory waste pollute the environment?

Some ask whether sugar factory waste is an environmental pollutant. The answer is YES. Although a majority of the waste generated in sugar factories is used as raw materials in other industries, if it finds its way to the environment, it will cause major pollution. The majority of the sugar factories do not take wastewater management and treatment seriously and the wastewater ends up in rivers which poses a threat to aquatic life.

Do sugar factories pollute the air?

Another common query among many people is whether sugar factories pollute the air. The answer is YES. Some will choose to incinerate bagasse as a way of waste management for sugar factories in Kenya. That will cause harmful emissions to the atmosphere which will increase the greenhouse effect. Bagasse can also be used to power boilers within the sugar industry. The process causes the emission of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxide. Juice fermentation units and evaporators are other emission sources that cause air pollution.

Is wastewater management necessary in sugar factories?

Some ask whether wastewater management for sugar factories in Kenya is important. The answer is YES. During production, sugar mills use a large volume of water and produce a significant amount of wastewater polluted with high organic compounds. Therefore, it is necessary to treat the wastewater before its disposal.

Final Words

Waste management for sugar factories in Kenya should be strictly enforced by the authorities. Every sugar factory should clearly be able to show the methods it will employ in its waste management before it is allowed to operate.

Factories that use bagasse, molasses, and press mud as raw materials should be highly encouraged near any sugar factory to make good use of these cheaply available sugar factory byproducts. That way, waste management for sugar factories in Kenya will be so much easier.

For wastewater management for sugar factories in Kenya, Biozone offers tailor-made treatment plants that will suit your needs. It will also help in the design and constriction of biodigesters for managing the waste that cannot be recycled.

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