Nestlé Waters North America today announced that its Ontario, California water bottling site is the first food and beverage factory in the world to earn Platinum certification under the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard. Nestlé Waters is also the first company of any type to achieve this advanced certification in North America.
The AWS Standard is the first, comprehensive global standard for measuring responsible water stewardship across social, cultural, environmental, and economic criteria. As part of the AWS certification process, independent auditors look at a number of factors within the watersheds where sites are located, such as water quality, water quantity, and the health of important water-related areas. Extensive engagement with key, water-related stakeholders, such as water agencies, NGOs, public officials, and community members, is important to identify opportunities and ensure the water stewardship actions are beneficial to local communities. Achieving a Platinum rating involves moving well beyond Core AWS requirements and having significant and positive regional impacts. Independent auditors from California-based SCS Global Services conducted the AWS assessment, and determined that the Ontario site’s actions represented best practice and truly advanced-level efforts.
NWNA’s leadership in and commitment to water stewardship have been the driving force behind the Ontario factory’s extensive history of managing for long-term sustainability, fostering community engagement, and collecting and sharing data. Among these efforts is NWNA’s participation in the California Water Action Collaborative’s (CWAC) work to improve California’s water security. As members, NWNA helped establish baselines for project selection and evaluation, collaborated on watershed restoration projects, and contributed Ontario AWS data to support efforts to define guidelines for setting context-based water targets with the Pacific Institute and CEO Water Mandate. As part of the Arrowhead Spring Special Use Permit issued in 2018, NWNA worked in close coordination with the United States Forest Service to develop an Adaptive Management Plan (AMP), which is predicated on responding to local conditions. Successful implementation of the AMP provides transparent, science-based data that can be used for making informed water governance decisions in the San Bernardino National Forest and beyond.
The Ontario facility is the first food and beverage factory in the world to achieve AWS Platinum certification.
Ontario’s AWS Platinum certification recognizes the site’s positive contribution to the local catchment, including best practice examples of the site’s community engagement, implementation of water education efforts, participating in water, sanitation and health (WASH) education outreach, and providing water donations to local food banks and emergency relief efforts. Representatives from the Ontario factory meet frequently with local authorities and stakeholders to discuss shared water challenges and best practices in water stewardship. One result from these meetings led to a collaboration with a water agency to improve the resiliency of the local water supply. Since 2016, the site has been engaging in collective action with the Cucamonga Valley Water District (CVWD) to treat contaminated groundwater, enabling the district to generate up to 250 million gallons of potable water annually for the community.
All AWS implementation efforts rely heavily on understanding stakeholder interests, which help highlight important opportunities, and developing an appropriate water stewardship plan that includes those interests. These efforts are increasingly important when applying for an advanced-level certification. As a site implements water stewardship activities (such as habitat restoration or data gathering efforts) and discloses the results of water stewardship efforts, it is critical to obtain honest stakeholder feedback regarding actions and impacts. Only through open dialogue, based on trust between parties, can ongoing improvement efforts be achieved.
In 2018, Nestlé Waters pledged to certify all of its water bottling sites by 2025. Thus far, the company has certified 30 sites around the world, 10 of which are located in the United States. To date, all of NWNA’s California factories, including Ontario, Sacramento, Livermore, Cabazon, and Los Angeles have been certified under the AWS Standard in the US, and these factories are now recertifying under v2.0 of the Standard.