In this installment of Green Steps, we pause to take a moment to highlight initiatives and thoughts from our very own NEWEA Sustainability Committee. We recognize that we are living in uncertain times right now. Though the daily news is grim and can cause much trepidation, we wanted to help brighten everyone’s news feed by providing a more uplifting story, from a time gone by (well, only this past January – but it does seem long ago now, doesn’t it?).
Last year, NEWEA’s Sustainability Committee inaugurated its “Green Steps” Award for Innovation and Sustainability. This award was developed to recognize projects or processes within utilities and businesses that are innovative and promote sustainable concepts or practices. Each year, the award recipients will be announced at NEWEA’s Annual Conference. In 2020, the committee recognized Globalcycle, Inc. as the winner of the first annual Green Steps Award for Innovation and Sustainability.
Globalcycle is the first commercial and industrial wastewater treatment and recycling facility in Massachusetts. The company takes in wastewater streams from sources such as excavation dewatering, cooling towers, tank cleaning, catch basin cleaning, etc., treats them at its facility in Taunton, MA, and trucks the reclaimed water to Covanta’s waste-to-energy incinerator in Rochester, MA. There, the water is used in the facility’s air quality control systems. Prior to receiving this water from Globalcycle, Covanta obtained water from onsite wells. The water supplied by Globalcycle thus achieves effective reuse and reduces the amount of water withdrawn from the aquifer.
Globalcycle’s process draws upon the idea of ‘right sourcing’ of water, which can reduce the overall footprint used in water treatment. The wastewater that Globalcycle collects is treated to an appropriate degree for reuse, but requires less processing than if it were being discharged to a local waterbody. By reusing the industrial wastewater, Covanta reduces the footprint related to more stringent treatment of the wastewater, the energy required for withdrawal of groundwater, and the many negative impacts of lowering the groundwater table that go far beyond energy considerations.