Sustainability and water
A Nestlé case study

Page 6: Limiting water usage/wastage

Between 1997 and 2001 Nestlé's volume of production increased by 32% but the amount of water used in production was actually reduced. For example, Nestlé's Harrismith plant in South Africa achieved savings of around 40% through recovery of water generated by evaporation and tight controls on the municipal water supply. Nestlé achieved a 12% reduction in wastewater production in the period 1997-2001. From 1993-1999 the company built 38 new wastewater treatment plants and 120 plants were upgraded.

Costs and benefits

The examples above involve large amounts of investment in capital equipment. Nestlé invests over £43 million per year for the protection of the environment in its factories, with 30% of this applied in the water area. Nestlé takes a long-term perspective on gaining a return on this investment, for sustainable growth and improvement in efficiencies. Another cost which shows Nestlé's commitment to improvement is the team of over 200 auditors employed to check that the business is complying with its own Corporate Business Principles. Nestlé's internal communication system includes an intranet, on which the Principles are published. There is also a cost attached to the external communication of 'spreading the message' e.g. the report referred to above. One benefit is that employees see Nestlé as a good business to work for. The annual employee turnover rate is just 5%. In 2001 a European survey of recent business school graduates ranked Nestlé as 13th most desirable company to work for.

Nestlé also benefits in dealings with partners, suppliers and also from consumers - who are more likely to deal with or purchase from a business that they recognise as being responsible. Nestlé grows by acquisition - buying other companies as well as by organic means i.e. selling more of an enlarged portfolio of products. The growth potential of the business is also enhanced if companies it wants to buy see Nestlé as a responsible purchaser of other businesses.

Nestlé | Sustainability and water

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