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Demonstration of wastewater treatment in Tunisian tanneries (EAUCUIR)
Start date: Jan 1, 2005, End date: Dec 31, 2007 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background The leather sector is one of the most important economic sectors in Tunisia. The EU is the main export market . However, the industrial processes involved in leather production use high quantities of water and chemicals. Waste water containing high levels of organic matter and chemical residues have a very negative impact on the environment. Infrastructure for treating waste water is rarely installed and used in Tunisian tanneries.In order to comply with more strict environmental legislation, to contribute to the sustainable development and the improvement of the competitiveness of the leather sector, the implementation of efficient waste-water-treatment systems are necessary. Objectives The main objective of the EAUCUIR project was to promote and improve the use of waste-water-treatment technologies in Tunisian tanneries. In particular, it aimed to develop the capacities of the National Centre of Leather and Shoes (CNCC) to analyse and treat waste-water from the leather tanning sector, was therefore essential. To achieve these general objectives, the project sought to: 1. Study the requirements of CNCC’s laboratory and purchase the necessary equipment for waste-water analysis 2. Carry out a comparative study of the current waste-water-treatment situation in Tunisia 3. Set up two mobile prototypes for waste-water treatment 4. Install and test the prototypes in a selected tannery 5. Disseminate project results through publications, presentations and workshops. Results The EAUCUIR project was a technical success, demonstrating improvements in the treatment of waste-water from tanneries. It also developed capacities in Tunisia to make further steps forward in improving the environmental performance of various industries, with the Tunisian National Centre for Leather and Shoes (CNCC) becoming a reference centre for environmental analysis and treatment of waste water. The project created an environmental unit and equipped a laboratory within the CNCC for the analysis of waste-water from Tunisian tanneries. It trained technicians both within the CNCC and the pilot tanneries to enable them to carry out the analysis of waste water and lead treatment work. The CNCC carried out a comparative study of the treatment of waste-water from Tunisian tanneries using a questionnaire and analysis of the water being emitted. This provided a much deeper understanding of the requirements of waste-water treatment in the leather industry. It also provided each tannery with information on their performance compared to the sector more generally and with regard to national legislation. Based on the analyses carried out, the project developed two mobile prototypes for the treatment of waste-water. These were specifically adapted for the treatment of water coming from the Tunisian tanneries. The technology used a physico-chemical process and a biological part using activated mud. The successful testing of this process demonstrated concretely the potential improvements to be made to the current water-cleaning systems in Tunisian tanneries . The infrastructure established and the training carried during the project as well as the ongoing commitment of the beneficiary should ensure that these processes are implemented in many tanneries across Tunisia. These steps will improve the image of the leather industry and enable it to comply with stricter environmental legislation. The project has already led to new governmental initiatives in order to reduce the legal limits of pollution in waste-water. This will strengthen the export potential of Tunisian leather. Finally, the results of the project promoted by the services of the CNCC, are also of interest in other sectors, such as textiles and food and beverage. The results of the project were widely diffused to support this process.
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