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Nestlé to Transform California Milk Factory to ‘Zero Water’

Nestlé is investing in 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 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 is expected to save nearly 63 million gallons of water each year, equivalent to 71 percent 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, the company says.

In California, Nestlé will apply a methodology called ‘Water Target Setting’, which identifies opportunities to reduce water usage and 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 to 3 percent, depending on the location, Nestlé says.

At the Nestlé factories in Bakersfield and Tulare, savings of more than 26 million gallons of water each year have been identified, potentially reducing the plants’ absolute annual withdrawals by 12 percent 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 a year, a reduction of nearly 8 percent compared to 2014 levels.

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

With California amid a years-long drought, Nestlé’s bottling operations have come under increased scrutiny. In April, more than 135,000 people signed a petition to the California Water Resources Control Board to shut down Nestlé’s water bottling operations in the state. Nestlé responded by claiming its 2014 water use in California was about equal to the annual average watering needs of two golf courses in the state.

In response to the drought, California Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year issued statewide mandatory water reductions in the Golden State. NASA scientists have warned California will need around 11 trillion gallons of water — about 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest U.S. reservoir — to recover from its drought.


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