Sitex's innovation consists of redirecting liquid waste known as effluent generated by industrial production to the changing rooms for its use in the toilets before being discharged into the sewage system, using a circular economy approach.
The project is chiefly driven by the goals set out in SDG 9 and contributes to the SDG 6 and SDG 12 goals.
The objectives of SDG 9 are to build resilient infrastructure, to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and to encourage innovation. One of Sitex's goals is to modernize its infrastructure by using resources more efficiently and promoting clean and environmentally sound industrial technologies and processes.
The innovation improves water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating discharges, and minimizing the release of chemicals and hazardous materials. The innovation significantly increases water recycling, supporting SDG 6.
Sitex also focuses on sustainable management with the ISO certifications, which aligns with the UN's SDG 12.
Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina
Sitex's innovation redirects the industrial production process's effluent into the changing rooms for its use in the toilets before being discharged into the sewage system. The innovation solves the issue of treating 20,000 Liters of industrial effluent every month.
This innovation was a simple and inexpensive alternative to regular wastewater treatment. If the reuse of water used in production processes is not possible, the effluent must be adjusted to the discharge permitted limits to be dumped. The traditional techniques for treating wastewater from industrial activities are expensive and include physical-chemical and biological treatments that require specific installations, equipment, and inputs.
Some of the parameters used to design and implement this inexpensive but effective wastewater treatment were to:
The project arises from the idea of the head of the company's Production Department, Oscar Rieder, and part of his team, driven by the commitment to comply with environmental protection but with limited financial resources since SITEX is an SME.
To see the project through, a working committee of four people led by Domingo, who is part of Oscar's team, was set up. Oscar told us that "meetings were held to discuss how the idea could be materialized, and once the committee had a feasible idea of what they wanted to do, we budgeted for what we would need and looked within the plant for inputs that could be used."
In a joint effort with different company departments, the committee developed and implemented this effective and inexpensive innovation for industrial effluents treatment.
"The beauty of the innovation is that gives an effective and inexpensive solution to SMEs. Large companies have sufficient economic resources to make important investments in expensive equipment and thus guarantee the quality of the resource reused in their processes. But, SMEs like ours have important budget restrictions, so it is hard for us to reuse or recycle the effluents", Oscar explained. He told us that if this innovation were applied to all the SMEs in Argentina, it would save 2,224,796 liters of water annually.
Sitex's products need a lot of water as a key raw material for the manufacturing process. Water accounts for 25% of the finished product. Therefore, any savings on the water is important.
The innovation made it possible to save 12% of water consumption per ton of finished product than in previous years (2019/2018). The total water saved since the implementation of the innovation is equal to 164,253 liters.
It can be inferred that the water savings from the reuse of effluent in toilets are equivalent to the manufacture of 588 tonnes of product.
This innovation was achieved with a minimum investment and reflected a very positive cost/benefit ratio. The company only invested around U$S 300 in a polast tank, a pump, and some accessories. The company used the existing facilities and applied different strategies to take advantage of the resources already available.
By 2020, Sitex plans to produce 5,580,000 kgs worth of products, saving 240,000 liters of water.
The working commission continues. Oscar explained that "every end of the month there are meetings to review the evolution of the project, analyze the progress and evaluate the evolution of water reuse, controlling the volumes of effluent treated and reused in the toilets. In these monthly meetings, improvements are proposed, their viability is analyzed and, if the improvement is substantial, it is put into practice".
The innovation has environmental benefits because it reduces the amount of water needed in this water-intensive industry. According to some research done by Sitex, the amount of water saved by this innovation is equivalent to 4 years of one person's daily bath (A ten-minute shower consumes 100 liters of water).
In terms of social impact, this was an empowering experience for all the employees of Sitex. They all became more committed to the protection of the water resource as a result of the project.
Oscar Rieder, Production Manager
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Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, AR
Business Website: https://www.sitex.com.ar
Year Founded: 2003
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
Revestimientos SITEX SRL is an Argentine company located in San Martín, a province of Buenos Aires, which designs, manufactures, and markets textured coatings, plastic plasters, waterproofing products, paints, and water-based cementitious bicomponents.
Sitex is an SME that generates a positive impact through its quality policies and environmental care. It is certified in its quality management system under the standard IRAM - ISO 9001:2015 and in its environmental management system under the standard IRAM - ISO 14001:2015.