In the 16 years that I've been working as wastewater treatment expert, the questions that I get asked most often are about how is the tequila industry doing about it and how friendly is it to the environment? Here are my answers:
What waste does the tequila industry produce?
There are different kinds of waste that are generated during the whole production process of tequila, and they all have a different impacts on the environment. However, there are two specific residues that are generated directly from the production process of tequila:
- The agave bagasse
- The vinasse
Bagasse is how we call the leftover fibers produced after the sugar and juice have been extracted from the agave pines.
Vinasse is how we call all the residual liquid that is leftover from the distillation process.
There are several options for the waste treatment of the tequila industry. However, in this series of articles I will specifically refer to the technology used for wastewater treatment.
How much wastewater does the tequila industry produce?
So far I do not know of any official statistic however, we at Casa Sauza, produce 800 cubic meters of wastewater per day and we are proud to say that 100% of this wastewater is fully treated and meets the official standards. We are talking about 800 thousand liters per day: We could fill an Olympic pool every 3 days. We are cataloged as large generators. Of course, a smaller tequila company will produce much less waste and tequila than we do. However, in the tequila industry there are few tequila plants that treat their wastewater in the Tequila area.
We at Casa Sauza were pioneers in using this technology ever since the year 2000, followed later by Casa Cuervo and Casa Herradura, who contacted us in order to find out how we were treating our wastewater and thus, decided that this technology was right for them as well.
Not the whole tequila industry has adopted this practice since the equipment and technology needed for a wastewater treatment plant costs several million pesos, which is a very high price to pay. In addition, the equipment is only the initial cost of it, since its maintenance and other expenses, such as electricity and trained staff, can turn out to be very high as well.
These costs do not generate any profits for the companies or improve its final product, so it is a business-related matter that small and medium producers would find hard to maintain. However, an awareness of the impact caused to the environment by the discharges that we generate, must be developed, since it directly affects the Tequila population's water quality.
Where is tequila wastewater discharged?
Wastewater is currently discharged in federal areas such as streams. In our case, it is discharged into the Atizcoa Stream. Unfortunately, this stream is already being contaminated by other tequila producers and the population as well, yet our emissions help to improve the overall quality of these waters.
A study was carried out along with this stream's water quality authorities in order to find out about the benefits that our discharges contribute with. The quality of the water was measured before our discharge and was measured again right after our discharge. The results showed that there was a lower concentration of pollutants after our point of discharge, since it dilutes the water and its contaminants, generating a better impact overall.
Read my next blog if you want to know more about the wastewater treatment process of Casa Sauza. If you want to know more about other Sauza's processes, find information here:
- TPM, an Improvement in Working Culture
- Casa Sauza, a Sustainable Company with a Sense of Belonging.
- Benefits of the Gentle Extraction Process of Agave Sugar
- Lean Manufacturing in Tequila
Come to Casa Sauza yourself and see how with the modernization of our tequila production processes, we have managed to deliver the purest tequila in the industry.