Processes at Nestlé’s Cero Agua (‘zero water’) dairy factory in Jalisco operate under the concept of not extracting any groundwater, and using the water removed from milk during the powdered milk production process.
This saves 1.6m litres of water a day: the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool, or enough water to meet the average daily consumption of 6,400 people in Mexico.
In turn, the water saved amounts to around 15% of the total water used by Nestlé in Mexico, across its 13 plants.
Water is precious
The dairy factory is located in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco: a very dry region where water is scarce. Nestlé says the amount of water available for the population has decreased drastically over the last 60 years, due to population growth.
“Cero Agua is the first zero water consumption factory of Nestlé,” a spokesperson told DairyReporter.com. “We have a clear water roadmap. The goal is to reduce – 25% of our water consumption per ton of product in all of our factories by 2020 compared with our consumption at 2011.
“We have mapped all projects we need to perform on the following years to get there.
“Nestlé recognises the long term success of the company is built upon effective water stewardship in the watersheds where its raw materials are sourced from, where its factories are located, and where suppliers and consumers live.”
How does a zero water factory work?
The Cero Agua dairy factory produces Nestle’s Nido and Svelty powdered milk products.
Fresh cows’ milk is around 88% water. It is boiled and condensed to make powdered products. Normally the water by-product is poured away.
Instead, Cero Agua takes the resulting steam and condenses and treats it, so it can be used to clean the evaporating machines.
It is then collected and purified again, and can be used for watering gardens or cleaning.
By reusing the water from milk, the factory does not need to extract groundwater.
“In order to treat and use the water obtained from the milk, Nestlé added an additional installation for water treatment and purification into the factory design,” the spokesperson said.
“The technology used for Phase 1 of this project purifies the water we obtain when extracting liquids from milk. This process only suits dairy factories, since water is a sub-product of powder milk manufacture.
“The Nestlé team defined a special method of treating the water extracted from milk on this added installation. Several tests on a trial plant in Switzerland were run and analyzed prior to making the decision to proceed with the industrial installation on the dairy factory in Lagos de Moreno.”
“The factory’s Phase 2 technology is an ascertained process for the treatment of residual water.”