As more wastewater treatment facilities focus on ways to cut costs and improve environmental stewardship through energy reuse and sustainable practices, the industry is becoming a leader in the world of tomorrow.

“Water and wastewater treatment plants have become more efficient and innovative, improving their processes and maximizing output use by recovering energy and nutrients, recuperating organic matter and producing clean, reusable water — that is sometimes even drinkable — instead of simply regarding it as waste,” reported The Huffington Post. “These plants are also becoming multifunctional, providing an integrated treatment approach that not only cleans wastewater but also recovers its resources.”

Highlighting the fact that sustainable wastewater treatment has also become good business, The Huffington Post highlighted a few use cases. These included a wastewater gas recovery project from Denmark’s biggest wastewater treatment company, in Copenhagen. The report claimed that one plant there sells more than twice as much energy as it consumes.

Copenhill, a municipal waste-to-energy plant, which will be the world’s most energy efficient of its kind project from Denmark’s biggest wastewater treatment company.  

However, there are still obstacles ahead. If wastewater operations are going to continue focusing on reuse, and more facilities will join these ranks, education, innovation, and incentivizing are all key.

“Governmental bodies and consultancies must work to ensure that local governments and utilities are well equipped with the knowledge necessary to make the most effective decisions while maintaining environmental stewardship goals,” The Huffington Post reported.

Furthermore, because basic services like wastewater treatment are rarely given the economic value they deserve, it can be a challenge to convince the public that sustainable treatment is worth the extra cost.

“How do you measure green employment, social well-being and or human and ecological health?” The Huffington Post asked. “It is our responsibility to work with and educate the public to ensure all aspects of providing a sustainable environment are met.”

Finally, as technology for environmentally-positive wastewater treatment advances, it is imperative to spread it as widely as possible.

“New, innovative, and holistic approaches to wastewater facilities, infrastructure, and so on allow us to not only take on the most complicated technical wastewater challenges,” reported The Huffington Post, “but also to find success with economic, low-end technologies in parts of the world where these challenges are not only technical, but social and economic.”