Industrial Wastewater Treatment: A Necessity

According to a report by India Water Portal, annually, about 37.7 million Indians are affected by waterborne diseases due to the intake of polluted water. 


(Image Source: IWP Flickr photos)


This is because many industries do not consider wastewater treatment and release large amounts of untreated wastewater into rivers, lakes, ponds, and the sea. 

In the wake of the demand for industrial wastewater treatment, the government of India has developed schemes like Jal Shakti Abhiyan, Swachh Bharat Mission, Namami Gange, and many others. These schemes, along with their motto of saving water, also emphasize the reuse of wastewater.

To empower wastewater treatment, the Indian government has also legislated a Zero Liquid Discharge system as a compulsion for most industries. 

However, it penalizes industries and municipalities for releasing untreated wastewater into natural water sources. For example, the National Green Tribunal penalized 23 industrial units, CETPs, and GIDC in Gujarat and ordered them to pay a total of Rs. 82 crores for discharging wastewater in the drainage system. 

This suggests the need for the development of more wastewater treatment plants. 

Which industries produce high amounts of wastewater?

  • Breweries 

Breweries consume 4-8 cubic meters of water per cubic meter of beer produced. However, many processes produce a vast amount of wastewater like wash tanks, washing bad water, soaking wheat water bottles, barrels, washing water, etc. 

It produces 3-5 cubic meters of wastewater per beer sold. 

  • Dairy industry

Along with milk processing, the dairy industry produces many products like cheese, butter, yogurt, dried milk powder, ice cream, etc.

The manufacturing processes generate a massive amount of wastewater containing pollutants like sugars, proteins, fats, additive residues, milk, and other matters. 

  • Paper and pulp industry

One of the world’s oldest industrial sectors, the paper and pulp industries, contributes a considerable share to the country’s economic development. However, it is a high capital, energy, and water-intensive industry that creates vast amounts of wastewater and mandatorily requires wastewater treatment plants.

The wastewater produced contains numerous toxic pollutants, and about 500 different chlorinated organic compounds have been identified in the effluent.

  • Iron and steel industry

The iron and steel industry carries out many processes that generate tons of wastewater; for example,

      • Production of coal from coking plants 
      • Separation of by-products
      • Conversion of iron or steel into sheets, wires, or rods

The wastewater produced from the iron and steel industry comprises benzene, naphthalene, cyanide, hydraulic oils, tallow, particulate solids, acids, and paint particles. 

  • Mines

High amounts of wastewater are produced in mines during rock cutting, crushing, and extraction. It contains rock particles, hydraulic oils, haematite, surfactants, minerals, zinc, and arsenic. 


Though the amount of water used and wastewater produced in industries varies, industrial wastewater remains a major pollution problem. 

How is industrial wastewater different from municipal sewage?

Industrial wastewater is much different from municipal sewage because it contains many synthetic chemicals and is often more concentrated. Moreover, industrial wastewater discharge limits also differ from that of municipal sewage discharge. 

As a result, industrial wastewater treatment plants are more complex. Moreover, their design, procurement, construction, and operation are also different from municipal sewage treatment plants. 


In industrial wastewater treatment plants, the following methods are generally used to treat the effluent. 

  • Physical treatment
  • Biological treatment
  • Chemical treatment

Importance of industrial wastewater treatment

    • Wastewater treatment can save your company from heavy fines and imprisonment
    • It reduces the amount of waste released in natural water sources
    • Potentially harmful chemicals are removed from the water
    • Sludge treatment can produce methane gas which can produce energy
    • Central wastewater discharge norms can be met
    • Treated water can be applied for various purposes like a cooling agent, agriculture, treating fly ash, substitute for freshwater in mines, horticulture, etc.
    • It can address the water scarcity issue by providing treated water for reuse
    • It protects aquaculture, flora, fauna, and the environment

Though industries are beneficial for the country’s economy, it also leaves a tremendous environmental footprint. Many large-scale industries have understood the importance of sustainable wastewater treatment and are focusing on efficient options. However, many small-scale factories often neglect effluent treatment and release it untreated into natural water bodies, leading to major water pollution. 

Thus, it is essential to partner with an efficient wastewater treatment plant manufacturer and let your wastewater comply with central discharge rules. 

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