This market research report analyzes the global market and developments in municipal and industrial wastewater sludge treatment equipment and wastewater/sludge-based odor control equipment. Sludge treatment describes the processes used to manage and dispose of the solid or semi-solid products produced during municipal sewage treatment and industrial wastewater treatment. Despite representing only about 1% of total wastewater flows, sludge handling accounts for up to 50% of total treatment plant operating costs. Some industry participants estimate that the sludge treatment market represents more than 20% of the total water equipment market.
Because of safety and nuisance issues, odor control has come to play an increasingly important role in the treatment and disposal of sludge and biosolids that accumulate during wastewater plant processes.
As noted in the Global Atlas of Excreta, Wastewater Sludge, and Biosolids Management: Moving Forward the Sustainable and Welcome Uses of a Global Resource, a 2008 study by the Greater Moncton Sewerage Commission and the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), several major premises apply to wastewater, sludge, and biosolids.
- The creation of wastewater in human communities is inevitable.
- History shows a common progression toward global improvement of wastewater treatment and wastewater sludge management.
- The progression appears to be inevitable.
- Once such systems are established and they are protecting humans from the immediate threat from waste-borne pathogens, focus inevitably shifts toward the effects of wastewater on other human communities downstream and on the natural environment and other organisms.
- Eventually, as wastewater treatment systems are able to reduce all forms of wastewater contamination by 90% or greater, the volume of wastewater solids, sewage sludge, becomes significant and requires careful management. In much of Europe, North America, Japan and other developed urban areas around the world, sludge management has become a major focus. In many places, it is the most debated challenge in the sanitation field.
- At the same time developed countries address the challenges of sludge management, approximately 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. Inevitably, the progress made by less-developed communities in coming years to improve human health and safety will lead to the generation of more wastewater sludge that requires management.
- The continuing refinement of best management practices for excreta, wastewater, sludge and biosolids must eventually provide sustainable solutions that work in a diversity of locations and situations around the globe, are energy- and cost-efficient, minimize transfers of potentially hazardous constituents to the environment, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and ensure healthy, natural ecosystems.