Cheese Brine Used as Road De-Icer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Using cheese brine instead of rock salt yields financial and environmental benefits

Back in 2012, the state of Wisconsin in the United States produced a whopping 2.7 billion pounds (1.2 billion kg) of cheese. This means that it was also left with quite a lot of cheese brine to get rid of one way or another.

What's interesting is that, instead of sending all this cheese brine to waste treatment plants, high officials in the city of Milwaukee are now trying to determine whether or not it can be used as a road de-icer.

A pilot program began earlier this month, Environmental Leader reports. The costs associated with using cheese brine to rid roads of snow and ice are estimated to amount to $6,500 (€4,724), and most of this money is to be spent on storing and transporting the leftover saltwater.

By comparison, the city of Milwaukee spent some $6.5 million (€4.72 million) on snow and ice management back in 2012, when it used run-off-the-mill rock salt. The year before that, clearing roads and streets of snow and ice left the city roughly $10 million (€7.26) poorer.

Folks who are in the business of making cheese also have a lot to gain from this pilot project.

This is because, instead of spending money on sending cheese brine to waste treatment plants, they can simply agree to donate it and wait for municipality employees to come pick it up from the dairy farm.

Local officials explain that, apart from the fact that using cheese brine for snow and ice management yields noteworthy financial benefits, Milwaukee's no longer covering roads with rock salt is bound to help protect local natural ecosystems and waterways.

Thus, rock salt that is spread of roads sooner or later washes away and can end up polluting the environment. The use of cheese brine is expected to solve this problem.

In case anyone was wondering, it appears that brine resulting from the making provolone and mozzarella works best at clearing roads of snow and ice, The Verge tells us.

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