Dairy, no water ! - A dairy industry which is self-supporting in water

LIFE03 ENV/NL/000488

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Contact details:

Project Manager: J. L. OOSTERVELD
Tel: 31 528 280440
Fax: 31 528275174
Email: info@dockaas.nl

Project description:


In the EC, dairy industries produce more than 6200 million Kg of cheese. The amount of milk consumed for this production is about 55 800 million litres. The processing in the cheese factories across Europe is more or less carried out in a similar way. Conventional cheese factories need 0.8 litres water to process 1 litre of milk and drain off 1.1 litres of waste water. The water which is required can be divided into two types: internal process water and cooling water.


The objective of the project was to achieve water self-sufficiency at a new diary park in Hoogeveen and decrease the amount of waste water by 50%. At the plant, the beneficiary intended to close the internal water cycle. The basic idea was to use the water that was already present in milk. When making cheese whey water arises. Instead of using drinking water, the water out of the whey water was to be extracted in several stages and used again as process water. To realise this, a complex process was to be designed with membrane technology, polishers and the necessary management system. Instead of pumping up ground water, the cold already present in the supplied milk was to be used. A flow of milk was to be created through the factory with milk buffers of different temperatures and several heat (/cold) exchangers. Important expected results of the project were: 1. A reduction of 1095 million litres/year of drinking and groundwater were to be spared thanks to the project. At the same time wastewater was to be reduced from 1.460 million to 660 million litres. 2. The CO2 reduction caused by several energy-saving efforts was estimated at 40 kton.


The project has achieved impressive results in the reduction of the use of groundwater, drinking water and energy. The main objective of the project, to demonstrate a dairy industry that would be completely self supporting in water, has however not yet been achieved. The main obstacles for the achievement of this objective turned out to be the complexity of the water management and the water demand of the new plant, that were higher than expected. The beneficiary was to continue his efforts in achieving the objective of becoming self-supporting in water, by improving the water management and by identifying ways to reuse waste water. At the end of the project, with only the first production line operational, the following results were achieved: 1. a reduction of water intake of 550 million litres/year (275 million litres instead of 825 million litres/year). 2. a reduction of waste water from 800 to 545 million litres/year. 3. a reduction to 0 of the intake of groundwater. The results of the project were impressive, especially regarding the reduction of intake of ground and drinking water. The beneficiary has achieved an annual cost reduction of € 550.000 (reduction of water intake of 550.000 m³ * € 1,00 / m³). Regarding the energy-saving efforts, the following has been achieved: 1. A reduction of energy use for cooling of 6.196.097 kWh/year electricity. When calculating CO2 reduction this would amount to about 3.5 kton/year (using a conversion rate of 0.57 kg CO2/kWh electricity). 2. A reduction of energy use for heating of 2.408.418 m3 gas / year. When calculating CO2 reduction this would amount to about 4.3 kton/year (using a conversion rate of 1.79 kg CO2/m3 gas). In total, in the current set-up of the installation, a total annual CO2 reduction of about 7.8 kton has been achieved. The potential for transferring the technology to other cheese and whey factories and possibly other companies active in the food sector is good. As the implementation of the water management system is rather far reaching, it is likely that this will mainly be of interest for companies that are preparing to build new production plants. The interest for this concept of being self supporting in water is likely to grow with the expected increase of the discharge taxes and costs of drinking water and groundwater. This project has been awarded the title of "Best of the Best" from a shortlist of 21 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2005-2006


Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Food and Beverages
Water - Waste water treatment


water saving‚  food production

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator DOC Kaas ba Hoogeveen
Type of organisation Mixt enterprise
Description DOC Kaas ba Hoogeveen is a cooperative association that produces cheese, whey and concentrated milk.


Project reference LIFE03 ENV/NL/000488
Duration 01-DEC-2002 to 01-JUL -2005
Total budget 7,023,130.00 €
EU contribution 975,000.00 €
Project location Drenthe(Nederland)


Read more:

Publication: Layman report Layman report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version