Grindeks is a manufacturer of medicine that has always taken care of production of qualitative, safe and efficient medicine, as well as environmental protection. Elina Strade, head of the Wastewater treatment plant of Grindeks, talks about treatment of wastewaters chemically contaminated by pharmaceutical industry and prevention of environmental pollution and risks to public health.

Wastewater treatment. Realizing the importance of these issues, already in 2009 Grindeks invested in the construction of new closed type biological treatment plants, which are one of the most modern industrial wastewater treatment plants in the Baltic States. Every year the treatment plants of the company purify up to 60 000 m3 chemically contaminated industrial wastewater, achieving the COD treatment efficiency of more than  91%.

Main challenges. E.Strade talks about the main challenges in treatment of pharmacy wastewaters: “Operation of facilities is related to highly variable composition of pharmaceutical wastewater, which is influenced by both the wide range of products and the changing demand for various pharmaceutical substances. The strategy of Grindeks is to increase the turnover of the company up to 500 million EUR by 2025 and to introduce more than 100 new products in production. This is a challenge for the company to balance the rapid development of the production plant with environmental issues, seeking economic and sustainable solutions for treatment of industrial wastewaters. That is why our company places high emphasis in particular on the research of wastewater from the synthesis of new products.”

Newest project. The project of LLC “Farmācijas, biomedicīnas un medicīnas tehnoloģiju kompetences centrs”, supported by European Regional Development Fund is being implemented until December 31, 2021.  The goal of the project is to support studies in accordance with the defined research directions, by developing new products and technologies in the industry and introducing these into the production, thus encouraging cooperation between research and production sectors, as well as improving competitiveness of the industry merchants. The project is being implemented in the sphere of smart specialization strategy of Latvia – “Biomedicine, medical technologies, biopharmaceuticals and biotechnologies”. The Competence centre program allows supplementing the product portfolio of the company with new prospects for active pharmaceutical ingredients, by developing methods of their synthesis, and to study the wastewater treatment technologies of the synthesis of these products before launching large scale production. Already at the development stage samples of wastewaters resulting from synthesis are obtained and their biodegradation tests have been performed in laboratory pilot plants. Alternative treatment solutions are sought by identifying wastewater flows that are toxic to microorganisms. As Elina Strade explains, the obtained research results allow forecasting the pollution load caused by new products and select optimum treatment solution that would not only be environmentally friendly but also economically justified.

The research results. Although research of wastewaters caused by new products requires time and finances, the first results obtained during the research conducted by the Competence centre show that we are on the right path. The research results allow  careful planning of production, aligning it with the capabilities of treatment plants to treat the generated wastewater, as well as avoiding potential costs and risk to the company’s reputation, due to failure to perform norms stipulated in the regulatory enactments. Besides, the research data on the treatment solutions for specific pollution can be used by other companies whose production processes generate wastewater with a similar chemical composition.