Investing in water efficient factories

Location: Mexico

Impact Area

  • Nutrition
  • Water
  • Rural Development
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Compliance
  • Community engagement
  • Gender balance & diversity
Jul 3, 2015, updated July 2015

Investing in water efficient factories
CERO AGUA:Nestlé's dairy factory in Jalisco, Mexico, is a ‘zero water’ manufacturing site.

Our factories must have water to operate, and providing a reliable supply is an important priority. Today, we withdraw nearly a third less water at our factories than we did 10 years ago.  At the same time we’ve increased production by more than half.  We are proud of this achievement, but with over a third of Nestlé’s manufacturing facilities situated in water-stressed regions, to grow our business we must continue to improve water efficiency.

Programme description

In 2014, in Mexico, we opened our most water-efficient factory. Over the last 60 years, water availability per person has drastically declined in the country, due to population growth. Using new processes, our Cero Agua dairy factory in the water-stressed state of Jalisco is already moving towards zero water withdrawals on-site.

The factory uses the water vapour generated when we evaporate cow’s milk. This water is condensed, treated and recycled for use as potable process water, and again for cooling and cleaning. This is saving around 1.6 million litres of water a day – enough to meet the average daily consumption of 6400 people in the surrounding area.

Value to Society

Water, more than any other substance, is essential for human survival and cannot be replaced. The gap between the supply and demand of safe fresh water is increasing and, by 2030, water withdrawals are predicted to exceed renewals by 40% if no action is taken. Responsible water stewardship is critical for all of us and to the future of our business.  We respect the human right to water and sanitation, and are helping to facilitate the sustainable management of water catchments where we source our goods, where our factories are located, and where our suppliers and consumers live.

Value to Nestlé

With almost a third of our factories situated in water-stressed regions, responsible water stewardship rightly remains a critical issue for our business and our stakeholders.  Water resource reviews help us to assess potential impacts to the Right to Water and Sanitation of local communities where we operate and they propose appropriate corrective actions, when needed. The right to water and sanitation is also systematically included in our corporate Human Rights Impact Assessment. By the end of 2014, 133 factories had undergone a Water Resources Review. We will continue to drive improvements in water efficiency and sustainability across our operations.

Next Steps

We are replicating the zero water process in locations such as Nestlé South Africa, where our five-year investment plan includes converting our Mossel Bay dairy factory to ‘Zero Water,’ and also in California at five water bottling plants and four facilities where food or petcare products are manufactured.