Treating waste water with bio-digestion

Location: United Kingdom

Impact Area

  • Nutrition
  • Water
  • Rural Development
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Compliance
  • Community engagement
  • Gender balance & diversity
Aug 17, 2015, updated August 2015

Treating waste water with bio-digestion
NESTLE FAWDON:Using natural biological digestion processes to treat waste water at our factory.

The direct use of sufficient amounts of good-quality water in our own operations is vital for Nestlé. We use water at more than 500 facilities globally for many functions, including washing fresh raw materials, reconstituting dried raw materials, extraction, cooking, cooling and cleaning, as well as for our bottled water business.  As a result, our factories not only produce nutritious products, but they also generate liquid effluents.

We want to make sure we treat these effluents effectively before releasing them into the environment. Wherever possible, we use municipal wastewater treatment facilities, but where they do not exist or cannot meet our own environmental standards, we operate treatment plants.

Programme description

Nestlé’s Fawdon confectionary factory in the UK invested CHF 4.9 million in an anaerobic digestion system, which was completed in September 2014.  The system converts solid and liquid sewage waste into clean water and methane gas using natural biological digestion processes.

The facility will save 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year year, cut solid waste by 4000 kg per day, and reduce effluent discharges by 95%.

Value to Society

We understand that water is critical to the sustainability of our value chain: our employees, our suppliers and our customers need access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Nestlé is committed to developing our business in a way that facilitates effective water stewardship. To deliver our commitment, we must ensure our operations use water efficiently and do not compromise the right to water of local communities.

Value to Nestlé

We have achieved strong water efficiency performance across Nestlé’s operations over recent years.  In addition to saving and using water more efficiently, in the case of our factory in Fawdon, this represents financial savings of CHF 380 000 in effluent charges and CHF 600 000 in electricity charges.

Next Steps

Ensuring that our factories meet the ambitious targets for discharged water quality by 2016 is a challenge we willingly undertake.  In 2014, we approved an expenditure of CHF 18 million on new and improved treatment facilities, and strengthened our water quality requirements for new effluent treatment installations to help meet this challenge.