Nestle to Transform California Milk Plant to 'Zero Water'

May 14, 2015 01:46 PM
Nestle to Transform California Milk Plant to 'Zero Water'

The international food processing company is transforming its Modesto facility so it won’t use any local freshwater resources for its operations.

Source: Nestle

Nestlé is investing in innovative technology to help reduce the amount of water it uses in California at the five water bottling plants and four facilities where food or petcare products are manufactured.

Work is underway to transform the Nestlé USA milk factory in the city of Modesto into a ‘zero water’ factory, meaning the plant will not use any local freshwater resources for its operations.

The project should save nearly 63 million gallons (238,000 cubic metres) of water each year, equivalent to 71% of absolute withdrawals in 2014.

Around $7 million has been invested in the project which is due to be completed by the end of 2016.

At the Nestlé USA factories in Bakersfield and Tulare savings of more than 26 million gallons (100,000 cubic metres) of water each year have been identified, potentially reducing the plants’ absolute annual withdrawals by 12% compared to 2014 levels.

And planned investments this year in conservation measures to reduce the amount of water used in Nestlé Waters’ bottling plants in California are projected to save 55 million gallons of water (208,000 cubic metres) a year, a reduction of nearly 8% compared to 2014 levels.

Further measures to reduce potential water wastage at these plants are under consideration, and as these are identified there will be further updates.

Technological solutions

Nestlé uses a phased approach to reduce water in its factories.

First, engineers look for ways to optimise the processes. Second, they look for opportunities to reuse the water, for example using cooling water in vacuum systems. In the third phase, such as in the zero-water factory, they deploy innovative methods to extract water from raw materials and then recycle it.

In California Nestlé will apply a methodology called ‘Water Target Setting’ which not only identifies opportunities to reduce water usage but also the most appropriate technology to be implemented.

This approach has been used in more than 80 factories worldwide, identifying opportunities to reduce water usage by 10%-30% depending on the location.

For example at a Nestlé factory in the UK an anaerobic digestion system which converts solid and liquid sewage waste into clean water and natural gas has reduced the plant’s water footprint while at the same time cutting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, and reducing solid waste significantly.

Going further

Nestlé is carrying out assessments of its facilities in California as part of an ongoing effort to improve operational performance and the impact of its plants on the watersheds in which they operate.

The state of California uses nearly 50 billion cubic metres (13 trillion gallons) of water a year, of which Nestlé’s nine plants use less than 4 million cubic metres (1 billion gallons).

“Our water bottling operations in California have come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks,” says Lopez.

“We are focused on how to adapt our bottling and our manufacturing operations, and our supply chain, to make them more resilient and more resistant to drought conditions,” he says. “We will test innovative solutions, prove they are efficient and effective and will share what we learn with others.”

The World Resources Institute is helping Nestlé to better understand water risks to the company’s food and bottled water manufacturing operations in their localities and to identify water stewardship opportunities.

Work is also underway to implement the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) international standard in each of Nestlé’s nine California factories, within two years.

Read more here.

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