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December 9, 2020

Poland Spring bottling plants get high marks for water conservation, sustainability

A sign that says Poland Spring Nestle Waters Kingfield Bottling Plant with rural fields surrounding it, and pine trees in the background Photo / Maureen Milliken Poland Spring water's three Maine bottling plants have been certified by the Alliance of Water Stewardship for its conservation efforts.

Maine's three Poland Spring water bottling plants have been certified under standards that guarantee the water and its surrounding ecosystem meet a variety of strict conservation guidelines.

The plants in Hollis, Kingfield and Poland were recently certified Platinum by the Alliance for Water Stewardship, which sets standards for water conservation and sustainability across the globe, a milestone for both the AWS organization and Poland Spring's parent company, Nestlé Waters North America (Nasdaq: NSRGY), AWS North America Director Matt Howard said in a news release.

“Poland Spring is one of very few brands in the world whose production sites are all certified to the AWS standard,"  Howard said. "Nestlé Waters North America serves as a model to other companies showing that water stewardship is good business.”

The Alliance for Water Stewardship, a Scotland-based global collaboration of businesses, organizations and public sector groups committed to conserving local water resources, has an established framework for sustainable water use that companies across the globe can apply for. The certification lasts for three years. The Poland Spring plants are the only ones in Maine to be AWS certified.

The Platinum certification confirms the company's commitment to water stewardship and giving back to the communities where it operates, said David Tulauskas, Nestle Waters' vice president and chief sustainability officer. "Our Maine sites have been recognized for going above and beyond.” 

The Platinum rating means Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, which does business as Poland Spring, has a significant positive impact on the region, according to AWS. The evaluation process uses independent auditors to review watersheds surrounding the sites. They assess water quality, water quantity and the overall water-related health of the area. Poland Spring also held hearings with local and state stakeholders as part of the certification.

Poland Spring's efforts include forest management to help improve wildlife habitat and forest health to ensure long-term sustainability of the springs and the ecosystems in which they belong, AWS said. Poland Spring maintains spring sources in Fryeburg, Dallas Plantation, Poland, Pierce Pond Township, Kingfield, Denmark, Hollis, Lincoln and Rumford.

The evaluation also considers community engagement, including data sharing. For the past 14 years, Poland Spring has monitored the depth and water content of the snowpack at its sites and supplied it to the Maine Geological Survey to upload to its public database, Maine Cooperative Snow Survey. The information is used to helped the state predict spring flood risks. 

Poland Spring has also been part of creating a collaborative process across the Saco River watershed, which spans 1,700 square miles in New Hampshire and Maine. The Saco River Watershed Collaborative focuses on watershed protection, protection of water resources, data inventory and water stewardship education. 

Emily Greene, outreach coordinator for the collaborative said the certification recognizes the positive impact of the effort. "They know what we know: healthy water is derived from healthy forests, shoreland buffers, wetlands, aquifers, small streams, lakes and ponds, and rivers," she said.

Also recognized is the company's participation in water, sanitation and health education outreach. Water donations to local food banks and emergency relief efforts, including a memorandum of understanding with Maine Emergency Management Agency that was activated during this summers drought, also were taken into account.

Poland Spring employees nearly 900 full-time and seasonal workers in Maine, contributing nearly $49 million to the economy in annual payroll, and invests $135 million annually on goods and services from other Maine employers, the company said. It has invested more than $9 million in community giving over the last decade.

The certification brings to 14 the number of Nestlé Waters North America bottling plants in the U.S. that are certified. The company is aiming to certify all its bottling sites by 2025 under the standards. It has a portfolio of about a dozen brands, of which Poland Spring is one.

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