Nestlé has reduced water usage by almost two thirds in less than 12 months, thanks to a technology and employee awareness drive.
The figures, which come from a Nestlé plant in La Penilla, Spain, are one of a number of water-saving initiatives the company has introduced at its factories across the world over the past decade.
It wants to reduce water withdrawal per tonne of product by two fifths by 2015, compared to 2005, while increasing production.
“At the beginning, it was challenging to change the habits of the operators, who were used to working in a specific way,” said Ramon Montserrat, head of engineering and packaging services, Nestlé.
“We convinced them by explaining the project and why we care about saving water.”
At the beginning of last year, the factory at La Penilla, which makes chocolate, confectionery, milk and infant formula, was using 72m3 of water per tonne of product.
60% water reduction
After introducing a water efficiency program, and investing $1,321,396 it has reduced this by 60% without increasing energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions.
Montserrat said the amount of water flowing through the condensers of the milk evaporators was regulated in a more efficient way to get the required vacuum on the equipment.
“This single and simple modification led to a reduction of more than 1,000,000m3 of water per year, the equivalent of 400 Olympic swimming pools,” he added.
The factory installed three cooling towers with a more efficient closed refrigeration loop system, which recycles water, meaning 25% less water was used in the first half of 2013.
The amount of water the factory needs to operate, and the amount of water withdrawn from the River Pisueña, is now significantly lower.
In another project, at a factory in Lagos de Moreno, in Mexico, it collects water that condenses during the milk evaporation process and recycles it to use in other parts of the site.
The project will save an estimated 546,000m3 of water, the equivalent of more than 200 Olympic swimming pools of water, by the end of 2014.
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