A major sustainability project at Bayer HealthCare LLC’s Animal Health Division is paying off — not so much in dollars as in water prevented from going down the drain.
Wednesday, Bayer Animal Health officials held a press conference at their U.S. headquarters in Shawnee to announce that a wastewater treatment system completed here earlier this year had reached a major benchmark by saving more than 1 million gallons of water.
The system, which cost more than $1 million to install, is only expected to save about $15,000 a year in costs, said Ernst Heinen, vice president of research and development for Bayer Animal Health. However, it’s already saved enough water to fill 20,000 bathtubs.
“We have not done it as a return on investment — the $1 million is hard to get back,” Heinen said. “It’s really driven by sustainability efforts and to be a good corporate citizen.”
CDI Industrial and Mechanical Contractors Inc. of Kansas City, Kan., began work on the new system in early 2010, according to a news release from Bayer. It went online in January.
The new system enables Bayer to reuse about 20,000 gallons of water per production day at the Shawnee site, where there are about 240 production days each year, director of communications Staci Gouveia said.
In addition to housing employee offices, Bayer’s Shawnee site at 12707 Shawnee Mission Parkway manufactures various veterinary, consumer and pharmaceutical products.
The process creates wastewater that may contain trace amounts of organic contaminants, the company said. That wastewater — after being treated to ensure it was at a safe pH level — was sent down the drain to the public sewer system.
However, Heinen said, the company realized it could do better.
Like many manufacturing facilities, Bayer uses a water-driven evaporation cooling system, he said.
Now, instead of sending the wastewater down the drain, Bayer’s new system filters it through carbon absorption tanks to remove contaminants, then transfers it into the cooling towers. During the cooling process, Heinen said, the water evaporates into the air.
So not only does the system allow Bayer to cut back on the amount of water it takes from the city, it cuts back on wastewater sent back to the public treatment plant.
Johnson County Commissioner Ed Peterson, who represents the northeast part of the county, was among dignitaries at Wednesday’s event.
“Looking at the protection of our region’s natural resources, Bayer’s installation of this new wastewater treatment system has created a forward-thinking environmental model for all businesses in our area,” Peterson said in a written statement.
Ian Spinks, president and general manager for Bayer Animal Health North America, said he was pleased to announce the development.
“Bayer Animal Health strives to be a model corporate citizen,” he said in an announcement from the company. “Many of our employees and associates call this area home, and we felt it was a corporate priority to be proactive in the protection and preservation of our community’s water resources.”