We’re reducing our water withdrawal as part of our commitment to continually improving operational efficiency. We’re also using alternative water sources such as rainwater harvesting, and working to further improve the water efficiency of our products (See environmental lifecycle of our products).
Assessing water stress
We’re assessing water supply related risks in our factories so that we know where to prioritise our water management efforts. We assess water stress in two ways:
- Nestlé Combined Water Stress Index, and
- Water Resource Reviews.
Nestlé Combined Water Stress Index
Our Combined Water Stress Index results from a desk-based analysis and takes an average of two leading water-stress indicators (water withdrawals to availability ratio; estimated annual renewable water supply per person for 2025) to determine water stress at any given location.
In 2012, we added an additional water stress indicator. We now screen our factories by also using the Water Risk Filter tool prepared by WWF and the German Development Finance Institution (DEG) to help companies and investors ask the right questions about water. The tool provides us with a score called ‘physical risk’, which takes competition from other local users into account where possible, to determine our risk of reduced water quantity or quality.
Using our Combined Water Stress Index, we update our water risk database every year. Overall, our index values have not changed much from last year. They show that 40% of our factories are still located in water-stressed regions, and that 10% are situated in areas of severe water scarcity.
Water Resource Reviews
Water Resource Reviews (WRR) are field assessments that evaluate not only our potential impact on a community's right to water of communities, but also the long-term availability of water resources around our factories at a watershed level, especially in water stressed/water scarce regions. In 2012, we carried out 16 reviews (2011: 12) bringing the total number of factories reviewed worldwide to 116 (2011: 100).
The reviews consider five pillars related to the impact of our direct operations on local water resources:
- Quantity: aligning the long-term water needs of our factories with water availability
- Quality: ensuring local water quality is not detrimentally affected
- Regulatory compliance: ensuring appropriate extraction licenses are attained and that local and national water policies are adhered to
- Site protection: ensuring measures to protect water supply are understood and implemented, and
- Stakeholder relations: mapping key stakeholders and trying to engage with them so that their and our water concerns are addressed jointly.
Stakeholder engagement is an important part of the review, ensuring that our operations consider collective, long-term local water needs. We’re aware that more needs to be done to involve stakeholders in these reviews and we plan to introduce more systematic stakeholder engagement in the future.
We give a value to water when assessing investments in water-saving industrial equipment. We assess projects based on a theoretical price ranging from CHF 1-5 per m3 depending on the water stress index of the factory’s location. This informs our investment decisions on water saving technologies, especially in water-stressed areas.
Regarding investments in water-saving projects and technologies, we have extended the acceptable return on investment periods beyond our normal criteria.
Water withdrawal and efficiency
We aim to be the most efficient water user among food manufacturers. We undertake this by reducing the amount of water withdrawal by being more efficient in how we use this water, and recycling it where possible.
We withdrew 138 million m3 of water in 2012 (2011: 143 million m3) or 2.9 m3 per tonne of product (2011: 3.17). This is a 9% reduction in withdrawal per tonne of product from 2011.
It is in our commercial interest to conserve resources and we continue to implement water-saving programmes throughout our operations. We have made good progress over the years towards greater water efficiency, but there is much more to do.
Continuous improvement driven by Nestlé Continuous Excellence (NCE) guides water-saving initiatives at many of our factories. Significant water saving initiatives in 2012 include:
|Nestlé Vietnam, Tri An
||Our investment of CHF 1.8 million in a new water treatment plant, about 20% more efficient than in a typical plant, is expected to generate savings of around CHF 120,000 per year. The initiative will reuse water, reducing daily water consumption by more than 30%.
|Nestlé Philippines, Tanauan factory
||We have invested CHF 0.5 million in an initiative to collect clean water for use in secondary applications such as the cooling tower and garden irrigation. Water withdrawal savings are estimated at 26% of the total factory requirements.
|Nestlé Mexico, Project Zer’Eau
||Responding to the water scarcity in México and the need for enhanced water conservation, we accelerated water use reduction projects and initiatives at our Lagos de Moreno factory. The latest initiative, called Zer’Eau (zero water) is implemented as follows:
Phase I (2011–2013): recovery and use of condensate from the milk evaporation process. This recovered water can be used for the boiler, and other utilities and process applications. This phase, along with various saving initiatives to be implemented in the factory during 2012 and 2013, will give an expected annual water savings of 546,000m³.
Phase II (2013–2014): plans for recycling water by filtration of wastewater saving an estimated 140,000 m³ of water year.
The water-saving project at this factory will help improve water availability in the community in water-scarce areas.
|546,000 m3 (estimated)
|Nestlé Pakistan, Sheikhupura
||We have invested in the latest membrane technology to recover water removed from the fresh milk evaporation process. The new technology will help us conserve water and save energy.
||40,000 m3 (by 2013)
|Nestlé North America, Ontario
||By optimising reverse osmosis recovery, our Ontario factory in California provides recovered water for reuse by other members of the community, such as landscape irrigation and industrial manufacturing.
|Nestlé Uzbekistan, Tashkent
||Water withdrawal has been significantly reduced through a range of measures including mapping water use to identify losses throughout the bottling process and implementing programmable logic control (PLC) to automatically balance withdrawal with production needs.
Investing in water efficient buildings
Nestlé Waters UK opened its state-of-the-art production facility at Waterswallows in Buxton in 2012. The £35 million water bottling plant has been designed with cutting-edge features to help reduce water use. The plant’s drainage system uses sophisticated technology to mimic nature, echoing as closely as possible the natural drainage of the site to minimise the impact of urban development. It promotes natural recharging of groundwater, in addition to enabling the wastewater from production and cleaning processes to be recovered and recycled.
Improving best practices at Nestlé Waters factories
Nestlé Waters recently launched a survey to collect and update best practices of water management implemented in our bottled water factories. The survey helps to understand the areas of opportunity by identifying which best practices may be applied.