Nestlé South Africa on Tuesday launched its R88-million zero-water dairy manufacturing facility in Mossel Bay, in the Western Cape.
The facility will allow Nestlé to reduce the factory’s water consumption by more than 50% during the first year of implementation by reusing the water recovered from the milk evaporation process, saving 168-million litres of water a year.
The facility will eventually further reduce its municipal water consumption to zero.
“The factory processes fresh cow’s milk, normally containing around 88% water, through an evaporation process. The evaporated water is captured and treated and used in various applications within the facility, eliminating the need for municipal water intake for these processes,” Nestlé South Africa MD Rémy Ejel explained at the launch.
He noted that the zero-water project was an example of Nestlé’s commitment to enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future for individuals, communities and the planet.
He pointed out that, between 2008 and 2010, the Mossel Bay municipality and surrounding areas experienced one of its worst droughts in recorded history.
The region was subsequently declared a disaster area and municipal water use restrictions had to be put in place.
“In supporting the town’s efforts to manage this crisis and ensure efficient water use, Nestlé introduced the water saving initiative at our Mossel Bay factory,” Ejel said.
He noted that, over the past six years, the company had installed new water recovery, treatment and recycling technologies at the factory, which is located in one of the Western Cape’s most water stressed regions.
He added that the newly installed infrastructure would enable the factory to reuse and recycle water from its dairy operations.
“This project will have a positive impact on the treatment, recycling, conserving and water-use efficiencies in our Mossel Bay factory. It will also link our business directly with local dairy farmers, suppliers, local government and the broader Mossel Bay community,” Ejel noted.
Nestlé corporate affairs director Ravi Pillay highlighted that the project would increase Mossel Bay municipality’s water capacity.
“Wastewater volume reduction and wastewater quality will be improved, and this will release capacity at the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant. When you compare our municipal water use in 2009, before zero technologies, with current uses, the site saves approximately 467 tankers a month,” he said.
He further stated that the project created methane gas as a by-product, which was used to power a boiler, reducing energy usage.
“Phase 2 of this project consists of the first anaerobic membrane bio reactor in the Nestlé business globally, which uses biogas and biofilters.
“Nestlé believes every person has the right to water and sanitation, and therefore remains committed to supporting the ambition of the United Nations to universal access to safe water and sanitation,” Pillay said.
Water and Sanitation Minister Gugile Nkwinti, meanwhile, stated that the plant was in line with the Department of Water and Santition’s National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, which encouraged the development of alternative water sources for water security, including recycling, reuse, desalination and groundwater optimisation.
“This plant will lead to a reduction [in water] demand, thereby contributing to an increased life span of water and sanitation infrastructure,” he said.