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  • by Trevor Loveday

Global wastewater treatment needs a 24% boost to hit targets

A study commissioned by engineering giant, ABB, has found that global wastewater treatment capacity needs to increase by 8.56bn cubic metres a year to meet UN goals.

In a report published last week, ABB estimated that 469 wastewater treatment facilities, each with a 50Ml a day capacity, need to be constructed annually to get on track towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal SDG 6.3. The goal includes improving water quality by halving the untreated wastewater produced globally. SDG6.3 calls also, for increased recycling, and the minimised release of hazardous materials.

The UN has reported that 2.2bn people lack access to safely managed drinking water, while more than 4.2bn people lack safely managed sanitation.

The UN’s forecasts for the scale of the SDG 6.3 challenge was derived from a 2021 report that showed that 48%, or 171.3bn cubic metres of wastewater, is left untreated annually. The ABB study translated this as showing that the SDG 6.3 target for untreated wastewater reduction by 2030 – required a 24% cut in untreated wastewater or 85.65bn cubic metres.

And ABB cited findings from International Water Association and others that treating wastewater consumes up to 3% of the world’s total energy output. President of ABB Energy Industries, Brandon Spencer, said “We need to ensure we are achieving these wastewater treatment targets in the most energy and resource efficient way possible to make it sustainable. This is where technology is key.”


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