Water, our lifeblood

 

Zeroing in on Water Stewardship

With much at stake, it comes as no surprise that leading manufacturers are now actively taking steps to manage their businesses’ impact on the environment, and in particular, to reduce their water footprint. In addition to complying with local discharge standards, F&B manufacturers are assuming a higher level of corporate responsibility to treat their wastewater before discharge, so as to help protect the environment for long-term business sustainability and for future generations. Nestlé is one shining example of a market leader with such environmental and business foresight.

The decision by Nestlé to transform its dairy factory in Jalisco, Mexico, into the company’s first “zero water” manufacturing site in the world is hardly surprising. The Jalisco “Cero Agua” project is one of more than 376 initiatives Nestlé is undertaking in its factories around the world that are helping conserve water. Even as production has increased over the past 10 years, the company has reduced water withdrawals per ton of product by over one-third. 

Located in the city of Lagos de Moreno in the water-stressed state of Jalisco, the dairy facility includes three adjacent plants, which produce ice cream, powder milk and cereals and share utilities, including water. In 2013, Nestlé awarded a contract to Veolia Water Technologies to treat the wastewater plant’s effluent for reuse. The polishing system installed by Veolia features its Aquantis membrane bioreactor, which produces a filtrate virtually free from solids. A further reverse osmosis treatment step retains dissolved solids and salts.

Inaugurated in late 2014, the new unit enables Nestlé to reuse the treated water for cooling, cleaning, and industrial uses, contributing to savings of 1.6 million liters of groundwater per day, equivalent to the average daily consumption of 6,400 people in Mexico. Nestlé plans to replicate this approach at other factories as it continues its drive to improve environmental performance.

In recognition for its efforts, Nestlé was recently conferred the Corporate Water Stewardship Award by Global Water Intelligence at the 2015 Global Water Summit held in Athens.

The Changing Water Landscape

Evidently, the F&B industry as a whole has become more conscious about the impact of their business actions on the environment. This is apparent from the actions that leading manufacturers (e.g. Nestlé) and other business owners have invested in to meet their green agendas, setting an example for others in the industry to emulate.

On all counts, the F&B industry is moving in the right direction, seeing as industry leaders are partnering professional water solutions providers to implement water-saving and recycling methodologies. In choosing to actively manage their water footprint, F&B leaders are one step closer to achieving sustainable growth. Water has yet to run out completely, but as the undervalued resource becomes increasingly stretched, better water management is needed to support the viability of businesses in the long-term, and to ensure that water remains accessible to all.

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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