Rotten Series Response by Nestlé Waters North America
Nestlé Waters North America Statement
The episode on bottled water in season 2 of the Netflix series “Rotten” grossly mischaracterizes the bottled water industry and communicates misleading information about Nestlé Waters’ operations. It also disregards the company’s contributions to the communities where we operate and the benefits of bottled water to consumers.
Bottled water cannot, and will not, replace tap water – and we never expect it to. Bottled water does, however, play an important role in helping Americans stay hydrated and healthy at a time when more and more beverages are consumed away from home.
At NWNA, it is our business and our passion to care for water, and we take it seriously. We recognize the significant responsibility we have as a bottled water company to operate responsibly and sustainably today, and well into the future. We operate under the principles of putting our communities first, being good water stewards, and promoting healthy hydration. We are proud to support our local communities in a variety of ways, including working alongside government agencies, regulators, and NGOs to protect the future of water. We invest in infrastructure, contribute money, water, and volunteer hours to local organizations, and provide water donations and disaster relief in times of emergency.
Read below for more facts on NWNA’s operations and the positive impact in the communities in which we operate.
Know the Facts about Nestlé Waters North America
CLAIM: Nestlé Waters is draining Michigan water.
Michigan has an abundance of water—it’s number 1 in the U.S.
According to a 2015 United States Geological Survey (USGS) study, Michigan ranks as the number one state with the highest percentage of water area, with 41.5% of its total area occupied by water. USGS.gov
Water is a rapidly renewable resource.
The water we use is naturally replenished through the water cycle. For example, our data shows that over the past 17 years, there has been an increase in precipitation leading to a corresponding increase in aquifer levels. According to the USGS and academic research, Michigan is a "wet region"-it is predicted to get wetter in the years ahead.
Nestlé Waters is a relatively small commercial water user in the state.
According to data compiled by Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), Michigan’s nearly 40 bottled water companies account for less than .01% of water used in the state. Our water use in Michigan ranks us far down on the list of the state’s water users.
The water we bottle doesn’t travel far.
Approximately 90% of the water we source in Michigan is sold to customers within the Great Lakes states.
Nestlé Waters is committed to the sustainability of water in the communities where we live and operate
Nestlé Waters has committed to certify, under the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) International Water Stewardship Standard, all of our sites globally by 2025. The AWS Standard is the first of its kind globally to promote best practices in water stewardship that benefit communities and preserve local watersheds. In August 2019, our Stanwood, Mich., bottling facility received Gold certification under the AWS Standard, a distinction that recognizes the additional effort and positive water stewardship outcomes that go beyond core requirements.
CLAIM: Nestlé Waters pays next to nothing to take water from Michigan.
All industrial and commercial water users pay the same price if they own the infrastructure.
Nestlé Waters pays the rate set by the local and state authorities at all of our sites. We do not receive a special rate for water use. While it makes for catchy headlines, we are not buying millions of gallons of water for $200. That $200 is an annual fee that goes to the state, similar to a car registration fee. It’s just one of the many expenses we pay to operate in Michigan.
What we all pay for is the cost associated with infrastructure, quality and delivery of water.
We make significant investments in infrastructure—we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars.
Since we began operating in Michigan, we have made capital investments totaling more than $267 million. The company’s economic activity generates nearly $5 million each year that support state and local taxes, which fund local schools, fire and police departments, local parks and other essential public services.
We create good quality jobs for Michigan residents and support local businesses.
Our company directly employs approximately 280 people in Michigan. According to a 2016 economic impact study, we buy more than $50 million in goods and services from Michigan companies. Our presence results in a total of 765 jobs created statewide and more than $160 million in economic activity, putting more money in the pockets of Michigan residents and small businesses.
CLAIM: Nestlé is profiting from the water crisis in Flint.
We’ve been providing free water and other support to Flint residents since the beginning of the crisis.
Starting in October 2015, our Ice Mountain team began shipping water donations to help the residents of Flint. In January 2016, we partnered with a coalition that included Walmart and other companies to provide safe, clean drinking water to meet the needs of more than 10,000 public school students in Flint.
We’ve never stopped helping the residents of Flint.
We’ve been working closely with the Flint community to understand their current needs, and how we can best help meet those needs. In early May 2018, we began partnering with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan to provide regular bottled water deliveries to three help centers located at the Greater Holy Temple, Bethel United Methodist Church, and Asbury United Methodist Church. From May 2018 through the end of August 2019, we have donated over 6.5 million bottles of water to the Help Centers and we have agreed to continue our bottled water donations.
Over the past two summers, we have deployed an Ice Mountain® Mobile Hydration Station to help deliver on-the-go hydration to members of the Flint community and surrounding areas. This trailer full of water visits various local events to enable community members to fill their cups or reusable water bottles free of charge. We are proud to have served Michigan residents more than 1,500 gallons of water from our Ice Mountain® Hydration Station.
Our operations in Michigan have absolutely NO connection to the crisis in Flint.
Nestlé Waters has never withdrawn water from any location in or near Flint. We source water from a completely different watershed, more than 120 miles away.
We’re helping donated water bottles get recycled.
In collaboration with Keep America Beautiful and Keep Genesee County Beautiful, Nestlé Waters and our corporate partners established recycling infrastructure and awareness programs to support the Flint school community.
CLAIM: Nestlé Waters is a Swiss company, and not part of the Michigan community.
We are an international company with a significant U.S. presence, and have been operating in Michigan for more than 17 years.
While Nestlé Waters North America is owned by Nestlé, which is based in Switzerland, we are an international company with a significant presence in the United States. Our headquarters is based in Stamford, Connecticut, and we have approximately 8,000 employees across the country.
Our employees don’t just work with the local community, they ARE the local community.
It is easy to forget, but Nestlé Waters North America, like any company, is made up of people. Here in Michigan, we employ approximately 280 people in the state who care about the environment and the well-being of their local communities, just like you do. They live, work and raise their families in the same communities where we operate, and for that reason, they are just as passionate as you are about protecting their neighbors and the natural resources of the area.
We just celebrated 17 years of sustainable operations, and we’re proud of it.
2019 marks our 17th year operating in Michigan, and whether through a strong commitment to water stewardship, volunteering, or community investment, we aim to make a positive impact every day.
We are committed to local causes and organizations and support them regularly.
We support many community organizations here in the state through donations of water, food, supplies and money. Ice Mountain employees volunteer where they live and work to support meaningful community projects including environmental cleanups along rivers and highways. Nestlé Waters has committed more than $2.5 million to the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund (IMESF) to fund multiple projects to improve the health of the Muskegon River watershed and have invested $1.5 million to evaluate and help provide a new city well in Osceola County that will be used solely by the community.
CLAIM: Bottled water is unnecessary.
Bottled water is essential in times of natural disaster or other emergencies.
We work on an ongoing basis with relief partners, such as Americares, American Red Cross, Feeding America, and Gleaning for the World to help deliver water in times of natural disaster or other emergencies. We frequently supply drinking water to local municipalities and first responders when tap water may be unavailable. In 2018 alone, we donated nearly 7 million bottles of water to communities in need.
Americans’ growing preference for bottled water over high-calorie beverages has cut billions of calories out of the American diet.
Bottled water cannot, and will not, replace tap water – and we never expect it to. Bottled water does, however, play an important role in helping Americans stay hydrated at a time when more and more beverages are consumed away from home. Americans have a growing preference for water – mineral, sparkling, flavored and still. In 2017, the sales of individual-sized bottled water surpassed sales of carbonated soft drinks for the first time ever1 and we expect this trend to continue.
That’s great news for the health of our country as billions of calories are being taken out of the American diet.
CLAIM: Nestlé Waters is encouraging a wasteful, throw-away culture by producing plastic bottles.
Bottled water containers make up less than 1% of municipal waste2.
But we all need to do more to make sure ALL plastic containers are recycled – from detergent containers to peanut butter jars to beverage bottles.
We’re investing in recycling infrastructure projects and community recycling programs across the U.S.
Unfortunately, less than 30% of plastic bottles are currently recycled3 and only 9% of all plastic is recycled in the U.S.4 Nestlé Waters North America supports recycling infrastructure through investments and partnerships with organizations like the Closed Loop Fund and The Recycling Partnership to help increase recycling capabilities and improve access across the U.S.
In fact, we have invested $6 million in Closed Loop Fund, a $100 million social impact investment fund committed to finding a national solution to the critical recycling gap in the U.S. The Closed Loop Fund has diverted more than 110,000 tons of recyclable plastics, and the funded projects are poised to divert 4 million tons by 2025.
We are committed to minimizing the overall environmental footprint of our packaging.
Nestlé Waters pioneered the lightweight bottle and we have continued to reduce the material used in our packaging. Since 1990, we have reduced the plastic content of our half-liter bottles by more than 60%. Light weighting – reducing the amount of plastic resin – saves energy and reduces our carbon footprint.
Over the last few years, we have explored opportunities in what we call “barefoot packaging,” which means eliminating the need for cardboard on the bottom of the case. We have also eliminated the pull tab from our sport bottles and made our bottle labels 35% smaller, as part of our efforts to remove unnecessary material out of our caps and labels.
We design all of our bottles to be 100% recyclable.
PET plastic, which we use to make most of our bottles at Nestlé Waters North America, was never meant to be thrown away. It was designed to be captured, recycled, and reused again and again.
We’re leading the industry in our use of recycled plastic.
With the launch of 900-ml bottles of Poland Spring ORIGIN in April 2019 and our Nestlé Pure Life 700-ml bottle (launched in February 2018), we now have two of the only major, nationally distributed bottled waters on the market to be made using 100% recycled plastic. In fact, the Nestlé Pure Life 700-ml bottle won the Institute of Scrap Recycling (ISRI) Design for Recycling (DFR) Award in April 2019.
Nestlé Waters North America is on track to nearly quadruple its use of recycled plastic, or rPET, across our U.S. domestic portfolio in less than 3 years. By 2021, we will reach 25% recycled plastic across our U.S. domestic portfolio, and we plan to reach 50% rPET across that same portfolio by 2025.
We aim to inspire consumers to recycle more.
Nestlé Waters North America was the first beverage company to add How2Recycle® information on our labels. These labels, added to all of our major U.S. brands, include a reminder for consumers to empty the bottle and replace the cap before recycling.
In 2019, we started to include the How2Recycle label on the plastic overwrap used for our cases. The label instructs consumers to ensure the wrap is clean and dry, and then dropped off at a location participating in the Wrap Recycling Action Program, a national public awareness and outreach initiative designed to make plastic film a commonly recycled material.
We also educate consumers about the impact they can make by recycling, while preventing valuable PET plastic materials from being discarded. In August 2019, we launched the #NotTrash Instagram recycling hotline with The Recycling Partnership to inspire more Americans to recycle more, better, and help improve curbside access to recycling.
We’re always exploring innovative packaging.
Nestlé Waters North America and parent company Nestlé S.A. have been determined to explore multiple ways to help solve the plastic waste challenge and we are embracing multiple solutions that can have an impact now. In January 2019, Nestlé S.A. and Danimer Scientific announced a global partnership to develop biodegradable bottles. In August 2019, the company established the first Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences to explore new paper-based materials and biodegradable/compostable polymers that are also recyclable.
We’re also thinking beyond the bottle.
In addition to exploring innovative packaging solutions, we are trying to find new technologies and delivery systems that will help us achieve zero environmental impact. Currently, our ReadyRefresh five-gallon containers are returned, washed and refilled an average of 35 times before they are recycled. Our Hydration Stations travel to local community festivals, primarily in Maine, Michigan and Florida, to dispense free water refills for attendees.
We have a variety of other projects in development. For example, Refill+, which has a launch planned for 2020, is an innovative dispensing system based on refillable bottles, offering a further building block to contribute to a waste-free future. The system will allow consumers to access healthy hydration with high quality filtered water that can be customized with flavors, carbonation and other exciting enhancers.
We support legislation that aims to achieve a waste-free future.
Laws and regulations play an important role in achieving a circular economy and we support public policy solutions that increase the collection, processing, and re-use of all beverage containers. This includes supporting funding for necessary investments in deposit and curbside collection programs, as well as investments to improve the quality of recycled material processed through these programs.
We strongly support the increased use of recycled content and have demonstrated unparalleled industry leadership in its use. We also advocate for policies that stimulate infrastructure investment and long-term supply contracting to enhance and bring supply and price stability to recycled content markets. We recently supported the passage of California Assembly Bill 792, which will require beverage manufacturers to use 10% recycled plastic in their containers sold in California starting on January 1, 2021 and will increase that requirement over time to 50% by January 1, 2030.
Know the Facts about Nestlé Waters in Nigeria
HOW DOES NESTLE WATERS SUPPORT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY IN ABAJI?
Nestlé Waters has operated in Abaji, Nigeria, since 2016. Our factory is located in Manderegi, a small village of 2,000 people around 5km from the town of Abaji.
Since we began working here, we have collaborated closely with the local community to put in place a plan that addresses people’s main concerns and requests.
The first priority has been to provide safe and free water access to the local population. Working with local government, Nestlé Waters has also renovated the local school and implemented a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. This includes eight toilets, hand wash basins for teachers and students, and water access for the school and the community.
Being part of the community also means investing in its future. Nestlé Waters has created a Technical Training Center which aims to match the new generation with new jobs. The first 12 students graduated in in July 2019, and most of them have now been hired by Nestlé Waters Nigéria.
WHAT IS NESTLE WATERS DOING TO FACILITATE WATER ACCESS FOR THE LOCAL COMMUNITY?
When Nestlé Waters set up its factory in 2016 in Manderegi, the villagers had to walk 1km to the local river to fetch unclean water to meet their needs.
Working with the local community, we have developed a program that aims to ensure the long-term sustainability of the watershed and facilitate water access for local people.
Today, we provide fresh and clean water through taps located at our factory gates and at the local school. A new access point will be available in November 2019 on the opposite side of a highway that divides the village, making access easier for hundreds more people.