Wastewater generated from food production and agricultural activities is a major source of environmental pollution. It is also among the most difficult and costly waste to manage because food processing wastewater can contain large quantities of nutrients, organic carbon, nitrogenous organics, inorganics, suspended and dissolved solids, and it has high biochemical and chemical oxygen demands. It must be treated to levels that will not damage receiving waters due to excessive nutrients or oxygen demand when directly discharged or will not disrupt publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) when discharged to sewers. In the U.S., it is subject to effluent guidelines requirements and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Plant-food processing wastes may be lower strength and greater volume than animal processing and animal production.

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