In Switzerland, the Nestlé Waters ECO-Broye programme protects the environment and supports local farmers. A biogas plant is the latest phase of the initiative.
A TRADITION OF PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
It is ten years since Henniez, Switzerland’s leading mineral water producer, became part of the Nestlé Waters group. In Switzerland, the name Henniez has been quite literally synonymous with the product – traditionally people used the brand name generically to refer to mineral water. And for many years, the brand has been no less synonymous with a strong commitment to environment and water stewardship. This was a key part of the Henniez tradition before it became part of Nestlé Waters; since 2008, it has only become stronger.
Back in 1991, the brand’s previous owners began to commit themselves so strongly to the environment, creating a protected zone of 120 hectares around the Henniez source in the Broye region and planting 70,000 trees to preserve the quality of the water.
Soon after taking over the brand, Nestlé Waters introduced an integrated water stewardship programme at Henniez that strengthened earlier initiatives. The ECO-Broye programme combines environmental conservation with a commitment to work closely with farmers and other local stakeholders.
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“The initiative from Nestlé Waters shows that industry and protection of the environment are no longer opposites. And it motivates the communes and each and every one of us to commit to a realistic sustainable development.” – Yannick Escher, mayor of Henniez
PRESERVING NATURE AND DEVELOPING BIODIVERSITY
In the Henniez protection zone, rainwater takes up to ten years to filter through the soil, slowly absorbing elements from its wealth of mineral content. Ecological agriculture is practised in an area of 120 hectares around the source. To protect the mineral water from the harmful effects of chemical products, the use of fertilisers, pesticides and phytosanitary products is prohibited, which guarantees the purity of the water.
Under the impetus of Nestlé Waters, a number of biodiversity and reforestation schemes have been put in place. Some thirty-traditional species of fruit trees were introduced, including wild cherries, pears and plums, and old cereal species are grown, resulting not only in richer flora and fauna, but also generating additional income for farmers.
CONVERTING MANURE – AND COFFEE GROUNDS – INTO ENERGY
The ECO-Broye initiative has now taken on a new dimension, moving beyond biodiversity and nature conservation into the field of renewable energy. A partnership consisting of Nestlé Waters and the Swiss power operator, Groupe E Greenwatt, opened an agricultural biogas plant at Henniez in 2016. Financed, built and operated by Groupe E Greenwatt, the facility converts manure collected from some 25 local farms along with coffee grounds from nearby Nespresso and Nescafé plants into electricity and heat.
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Enough power for 750-1,000 households is generated using a non-fossil energy source, meaning a significant saving in CO2 emissions, while the majority of the heat is used by the neighbouring Henniez bottling plant. Participating farmers can dispose of their manure at any time during the year and benefit from the by-product of the biogas production process: a high-quality organic fertiliser.
For Nestlé Waters, the partnerships with Groupe E Greenwatt and with local farmers have produced win-win results on all levels. These initiatives demonstrate Nestlé Waters’ commitment to water stewardship, not only protecting the resources of the planet, but also supporting the communities in which it operates.
“Joining forces, we have reduced CO2 emissions significantly – a great contribution that benefits the environment.” - Alain Sapin, Chairman of Groupe E. Greenwatt
THE LARGEST AGRICULTURAL BIOGAS PLANT IN SWITZERLAND
Biogas technology involves the generation of a combustible gas from the anaerobic (oxygen-free) digestion of biomass. Biogas can be used as a carbon-free additive for automobile fuel or – as here – it can be converted into electricity and heat through a cogeneration process. The largest agricultural biogas plant in Switzerland, the facility consumes:
- 25,000 tonnes of manure from 25 local farms,
- 3,800 tonnes of organic waste from Nespresso and Nescafé plants, in order to produce:
- 4 million kWh of electricity
- 4.5 million kWh of heat (partly consumed by the Henniez bottling plant).