Water efficiency and sustainability

water efficiency

Water efficiency and sustainability

What is the issue?

Water is our most precious resource, and water scarcity is already a major issue in many countries around the world.

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Why is it important?

Water is a vital resource for the food industry, and we depend on a stable, sustainable supply of water to run our operations. To ensure water security in our operations and in the communities where we are based, we must ensure we are using water efficiently and sustainably.


  • Achieved
  • By 2015 – Reduce total water consumption of our factories and sites by 40% (from a 2006 baseline)
  • In progress
  • By 2020 – Reduce total water consumption of our factories and sites by 50% (from a 2010 baseline)
  • By 2020 – 40% reduction in water per tonne of product (baseline 2010)

Contributing to the sustainability of our local communities’ water supply.


Reduced direct water withdrawals and introduction of innovative technologies for water management.

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What are we doing about it?

At a global level, Nestlé is committed to actively seeking new opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle water throughout our operations. To support this commitment, in 2011, we set a target of reducing our water consumption by 50% across all our manufacturing sites in the UK & Ireland.

In order to meet this objective, we needed to build up a detailed picture of how our operations use water, and where we might be able to reduce our consumption. A multidisciplinary team of 20 engineers and product specialists carried out audits of each site, and based on this developed an action plan that outlined where to focus our resources, as well as opportunities for investing in water recovery technologies.

We now have action plans rolling-out across all our UK sites, which have led to more than 250 water-saving projects. As a result of these efforts we reduced our water consumption by over 58% by 2015.

Working with Nestlé and Business in the Community to address water quality problems and incentivise natural flood risk management in the dairy supply chain is both exciting and groundbreaking for the Rivers Trust movement. An industry-led approach to addressing these critical societal problems offers a real and effective route for achieving solutions that have so far eluded traditional state-aid and regulatory approaches.
Alistair Maltby, Executive Director, The Rivers Trust

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Investing in new technologies

In 2015, we made a number of major investments in technologies that are currently delivering significant water savings across our operation in the UK. These include the following:

• At our Dalston factory we modified our control systems on our milk drying process for our powdered beverage products. This changed the way we manage the condensing process, reducing our cooling water usage by an expected 55,000m3 per year.

• We invested £17,000 on projects to reduce water losses and recover wastewater in our cooling towers in York. These have delivered a combined annual saving of 5,000m3.

• We made Energy Target Setting (ETS) investments to help halve our water use and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We used the ETS process across our UK sites to identify process and investment opportunities to improve water efficiency. Internal and external experts follow a structured assessment approach to identify and prioritise these opportunities.

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Employee engagement

Making the most of opportunities to reduce our water consumption depends on the support of all our employees. To raise awareness of the water cycle and water efficiency among employees, we included more training about water issues in our annual employee conference in 2015.

Our employees regularly take part in events and campaigns to help spread the message about the importance of conserving water. For example, in 2015, Nestlé Waters employees volunteered to distribute water-related educational materials to schoolchildren, as part of our support for Project WET and World Water Day. Read more.

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What’s next?

This year we are building on work to raise awareness of water efficiency among our employees across the UK. We are setting up a programme to increase employee knowledge and engagement around the issue, to help them become effective water stewardship ambassadors.

We are also restructuring our operational review processes in order to build water, energy and waste into the operational mindset of our factory employees, and highlight the link between the actions they take and their subsequent impact on these resources.

By 2020 – 40% reduction in water/tonne (baseline 2010).