The world's biggest food and beverage company, Nestlé, has become the first firm in Ireland to achieve Platinum certification under the independent Alliance for Water Stewardship process.
Its Wyeth Nutrition facility at Askeaton in Limerick was awarded the accolade, also becoming Nestle's first food manufacturing factory in Europe to reach the milestone.
The AWS Standard is the global standard for measuring responsible water stewardship across social, cultural, environmental and economic criteria.
The Platinum rating is the highest level of certification available.
Over recent years annual water abstraction at the Askeaton facility has reduced by almost one third, from 920,940 m3 (cubic metres) in 2013 to 640,235 m3 in 2019, as part of a range of actions Wyeth has embedded into the organisation and factory processes.
"Fresh, clean water is essential for our production here and to ensure the highest quality product," Antonio Prochilo, factory manager at Wyeth Nutrition in Askeaton, said.
He said the team placed significant focus on improving water sustainability on site as part of Nestlé's wider global prioritisation of water sustainability.
"This engagement was achieved through dialogue with local stakeholders on the ground, together with participation in Environmental Protection Agency Community of Practice for water events nationwide."
Late last year, Nestlé published a plan to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and to bring them to net zero by 2050.
It included initiatives such as switching Smarties packaging to 100% recyclable paper, removing approximately 250 million plastic packs sold globally every year and becoming the first global confectionery brand to do so.