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Water summit: Nestlé wins 2015 corporate stewardship award

Nestlé’s ‘Cero Agua’ dairy factory in Jalisco, Mexico

Nestlé has won the Corporate Water Stewardship award at the 2015 Global Water Awards for technology that allows a Mexican dairy factory to operate without using any local groundwater.

The company won the award, voted on by audience members at the Global Water Summit in Athens and online members of the 2030 Water Resources Group, for its 'ZerEau' water initiative, piloted at its ‘Cero Agua’ factory in Mexico’s water-scarce Jalisco state.

“This prestigious award means a huge amount – it’s a vindication of five years hard work from our team on this project. This technology is unique within Nestlé, and it’s by no means an accepted industry direction,” said Jim Knill, Nestlé’s head of dairy operations.

The site is the first to pilot use of Nestlé technology that allows the site to operate without using groundwater during normal operations. Water is extracted from cow’s milk and treated to allow for its use as process water. The resulting effluent water is treated again and used for cooling and cleaning.

“Twelve years ago I was told that this couldn’t be done, due to cost implications, water quality issues, the technical complexity involved. But we’ve shown that the technology works – now we want to apply it elsewhere,” Knill said.

Following the success of its pilot in Mexico, Nestlé plans to retrofit other dairy factories situated in water-stressed areas of South Africa, Pakistan, India and China with the technology.

Such water-saving technologies form part of Nestlé’s work to achieve water efficiency and sustainability across its operations, by minimising the impact of its operations on natural water resources.