As climate change exacerbates water challenges across the globe, the importance of water conservation and water stewardship has come to the fore now like never before. In driving environmental efficiencies, it’s now essential that water in its wider context is now front and centre in the pursuit of sustainable corporate practices.
At Nestlé’s Wyeth Nutrition, there’s always been a pioneering and innovative spirit when it comes to pursuing progress. Supported through GreenPlus, the factory has now become the first manufacturing site in Ireland to earn the global top standard of a Platinum certificate under the rigorous Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) standard.
While water is still taken for granted by many, it’s predicted that almost half the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030. Water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century and climate change and bio-energy demands are also expected to amplify the already complex relationship between world development and water demand.
As part of Nestlé, the largest nutrition, health and wellness company in the world, Wyeth Nutrition supplies infant and maternal nutrition products to markets across the globe. The experienced workforce at the world-class factory at Askeaton, Co. Limerick are constantly aware of their responsibility to the current generation but also the generations to come.
Gaining the top award from the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) has been a noteworthy achievement for the company. “Fresh, clean water is essential for our production here and to ensure the highest quality product. Our journey to safeguard and improve our water usage involved extensive engagement with stakeholders in our immediate water catchment area and across Ireland.” explains Ian Ryan, who headed up the project.
“GreenPlus helped us to achieve what is the highest possible standard and deliver what we wanted to ultimately achieve to be an exemplar in the area of water stewardship”, says Ryan, Energy and Utilities Manager
“We are privileged in Ireland in relation to access to water, but around the world some of the statistics around water are of concern. Goal 6 targets in the UN Sustainable Development Goals are clear in relation to water-use efficiency across all sectors by 2030 and everybody has to play their part.”
Wyeth Nutrition took a practical approach and their project objectives were to implement a water stewardship strategy, principles and procedures at the Askeaton site. Their credentials are now clear and they have become elite performers. Having done a gap analysis report, new water stewardship practices and procedures have now been implemented, standardised and externally validated via the newly developed Site Water Stewardship Manual and the company has achieved the highly-covetable AWS standard.
“GreenPlus enabled this journey for us”
One of the most positive things about the process for Wyeth is that the company is now set to bring this information further out in to the community and get more and more people trained up with the aim of creating a vibrant, collaborative, stakeholder-inclusive process. “We had a very high level objective to achieve and we want to maintain it. GreenPlus enabled that journey for us. The application process was clear, the funding stream was there and we also gained access to the people that we needed. It gave us the framework to map out our tasks”.
“The task ahead of us all is still enormous and really the work is only starting”, points out Ian. “We all need to work together to ensure the sustainability of this vital resource on which we all depend.”
As the world’s largest food producer, Nestlé has committed to taking action to address water sustainability across its business:
- In the period 2010-2019, Nestlé has reduced its direct water withdrawals globally by 31%, with a 37% reduction in the nutrition and healthcare category.
- Nestlé has certified 32 of its factories worldwide to the AWS standard to date and with a commitment to certification of all Nestlé Waters plants by 2025.
- On the wider issue of sustainability, Nestlé set out a detailed and time-bound plan to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and be net zero by 2050.