As the climate changes and populations grow, the availability of clean, safe water is under pressure. Water stress, where demand exceeds the amount of good quality water available, is also a growing challenge.
Food and beverage production relies on water. We depend on it throughout our agricultural supply chains and operations and recognize our role in helping to protect, restore and renew water sources. We are reducing withdrawals in our factories, helping farmers to introduce sustainable practices and increasing access to safe water and sanitation in communities near our operations and sourcing origins.
In particular, our Nestlé Waters business aims to lead the regeneration of the water cycle to help create a positive water impact everywhere it operates by 2025.
Our approach to water management across Nestlé
Although water stress is an issue in many parts of the world, the impacts are often felt locally by the communities and farmers who grow the ingredients we use in our products. Our approach to water stewardship must be local and context-based.
We follow a three-step roadmap from local to wider catchment level: regulatory compliance as a minimum, followed by ‘excellence’ in water resources management, and then collective action across landscapes.
We continuously strive to improve water savings at Nestlé factories by monitoring water efficiency and the quality of the water we discharge. We aim to reduce water use in our factories by 6 million m3 between 2021 and 2023.
We will advance the regeneration of water cycles to help create a positive water impact everywhere our water business operates.
We promote and work with suppliers and farmers to implement better water management practices in water-stressed areas. This aims to protect watersheds and helps to go beyond the conservation of water sources to help regenerate and restore water cycles in the areas where we operate.
We believe businesses have a role to play in helping people access safe water supplies. Our Human Rights Salient Issue Action Plan puts water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at the heart of our water stewardship program and aims to prevent AWS risks in our operations and supply chain.
We work together with local and global stakeholders to address shared watershed challenges.
Expanding efforts beyond our own waters operations
Climate change, higher water consumption, growing urbanization and damaged infrastructure are some of the factors contributing to the deterioration of the natural water cycle. These trends are interfering with the predictability of precipitation and the availability of clean water. Additionally, rising temperatures and more extreme weather patterns are causing more flooding and droughts.
We are expanding our current efforts to manage water sustainably beyond our own operations and increasing our collaboration with partners to identify and support local solutions.
CEO Water Mandate
We are a member of the CEO Water Mandate, a UN Global Compact initiative that unites business leaders on water, sanitation and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Working with AWS
Nestlé is a member of the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Technical Committee and Agriculture Working Group. Our representatives have also contributed to the work of the AWS Board and sit on the AWS Technical Committee.
Nespresso collaborates with local organizations in Brazil
Back in 2013, Nespresso began working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Brazilian non-governmental organization IPE (Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas) to launch the Cerrado Waters Consortium. One in every eight cups of coffee drunk in the world contains coffee from the Cerrado, and the area also provides water for about 40% of Brazil’s population.
Notably, water management has become a challenge. The area receives a lot of rainfall during the winter, but very little during the summer dry season. Climate change is exacerbating these patterns. The Consortium is providing expertise and funding for initiatives to address the risks, such as tree planting, and has helped bring the wider farming community together.
Landscape Enterprise Networks in the UK
In 2022, we began a landscape project in East Anglia, UK, as part of Landscape Enterprise Networks. This holistic regeneration initiative aims to have a positive impact on water quality through planting cover crops and other regenerative agriculture activities at a landscape level.
Our strategic approach to water in agriculture aims to support our net zero ambition and the related goal of sourcing 50% of our key ingredients through regenerative agriculture methods by 2030. The approach is focused on two key areas:
1. Building on the foundations already in place. Our agronomists continue to train farmers throughout our supply chains on good water management practices. We are also taking action where we have identified watershed preservation activities that we can take together with farmers and local stakeholders. These largely target watersheds where our supply chain is exposed to higher water risks and are aimed at both reducing farmers’ water use and increasing water availability.
2. Regenerating local water cycles in direct proportion to our local agricultural water footprint. We plan to put programs in place to help maintain water use within the limits of what is naturally replenished and to achieve a positive water balance at the watershed level.