The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) is a global organization made up of members from leading businesses, non-profits, public sector agencies and academic institutions with the collective goal of promoting responsible use of freshwater that is socially, economically and environmentally beneficial to all. To this end, members have developed the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard (AWS Standard), designed to help companies and other water users implement responsible practices that mitigate water risks (e.g., water scarcity), improve efficiency, and address shared water challenges (e.g., drought, population growth, etc.).
Achieving AWS certification is a rigorous process that includes a series of actions, criteria, and indicators for how to manage water both at the factory level, as well as outside the boundaries of a site.
What are some factors auditors require from a factory in order to meet the AWS standard?
The AWS Standard assesses a site across five key areas:
- Good Water Governance: the effective and responsible management of water resources
- Sustainable Water Balance: managing water use to ensure the rate and quantity of water withdrawal does not outpace the natural replenishment of the source
- Good Water Quality: taking steps to preserve, and even improve, the quality of available water resources
- Important Water-Related Areas: identifying and protecting areas of the watershed that are critical to the health and sustainability of local water resources
- Safe water, Sanitation and Hyguene for All (WASH): working to improve water and sanitation services but also basic hygiene practices
One of the most important factors auditors consider is a plant's wastewater system, which can have an impact on water usage throughout a watershed where a factory is located. AWS evaluates conditions upstream from a factory, where the water is sourced, as well as downstream, where runoff from the factory flows. For instance, our Californian bottling plants in Sacramento and Ontario have implemented a number of conservation techniques encouraged by the Standard, including reverse osmosis to better filter and reuse wastewater. Further, the AWS process encourages factories to incorporate the feedback of other water users in the region into Nestlé Waters’ operations. The concerns of key stakeholders – such as water treatment plants in the regions where our factories are located – are factored into the way we operate our business. Taking the needs and ideas of our neighbors into account allows us to find new ways of saving water while encouraging collaboration to meet the goals of the AWS Standard.
What is the AWS Certification Process?
To obtain certification, a facility must follow the five-step process depicted below: