Nestle has announced the immediate closure of a bottling plant in Phoenix, Arizona, US which only opened in 2016. The company’s factory manager cited increased competition as the reason behind the decision, while the plant has previously attracted criticism for extraction of water from a notably dry, desert geography.
Nestle originally purchased the water used at the bottling plant from the city of Phoenix. The company said February 11 that it will continue to ship water to metropolitan Phoenix from other sources.
Nestle's website has boasted of a responsible water stewardship regime, describing the Phoenix plant as "investing USD 35 million in a new environmentally friendly (LEED Silver-certified) facility. We’ll ensure that this operates as sustainably as possible. For example, water recovery systems will help meet the factory’s needs, while solar panels will power its front office" and goes on to say "Careful water stewardship is the key to running a sustainable business, wherever Nestlé Waters North America operates. We’re working closely with the city of Phoenix authorities to ensure that we’re a responsible water user, and that our operations have a positive impact...We expect to buy 35 million gallons of water each year from the city of Phoenix. This represents 0.035% of the city’s total water usage, according to 2014 data from the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Every year we will voluntarily make public the amount of water we require to operate".
Elsewhere in the US, a permit allowing Nestle to boost the amount of groundwater it pumps in the state of Michigan was challenged by activists last year. The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) filed a petition in May 2018 to contest a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) extraction permit in state court.
MCWC, which previously sued Nestle over its water withdrawals in Michigan, claims the state did not follow the law when it conditionally approved Nestle's bid to withdrawal more water from a well drawing from a spring aquifer in Michigan's Osceola County.
Nestle Has Alliance for Water Stewardship Certifications
In October 2017, OOSKAnews reported a Nestle announcement that twenty factories of the water division of the Nestle Group would achieve Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certification by 2020. Nestle, which produces 49 water brands including S. Pellegrino and Perrier, is the world’s biggest bottled water company, then operating 95 production facilities in 34 countries.The International Water Stewardship Standard (“AWS Standard”) is a framework for major water users to understand their water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently for "sustainable water management within a catchment context". Certified sites’ progress against 30 Core AWS criteria is described as being verified by credible, independent, third party certification bodies.
AWS is a global membership collaboration comprised of businesses, NGOs, public sector offices and sustainability stakeholders. It was launched in 2014 by industry leaders, public sector agencies, academic institutes, and environmental conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy and WWF.