Cleaning water with nature


Our Maungatūroto site has been using nature to reduce its water usage by up to 25%.

In a first of its kind for Fonterra, evaporator condensate (water extracted from milk) from the site is redirected through a natural wetland before being further treated and re-used at the site.

The site is one of six water constrained sites across the country that are working to reduce water use by 30% by 2030.

By recycling up to 700,000 litres of water a day through the wetland the site has been able to reduce its reliance on Kaipara District Council supply – giving the community more security of water supply.

Water is a precious taonga (treasure) and it’s important we look after it for the good of everyone. Recent drought and infrastructure failures impacting water supply to the site mean it’s more important than ever that we do what we can to limit our impact.

Maungatūroto Environmental Manager, Stuart Glen says he could see the circular way to clean water from site as the only way to do it.

“I started with the Co-op a little over two years ago, and the idea for cleaning site water by using the wetland as a natural bioreactor had been looked at but faced a few challenges.”

We’ve taken a holistic, circular and nature-based approach to look at how we could work in partnership with nature.


“It has required thinking outside of the box and a multi-faceted approach to overcome these challenges including maintaining the wetland’s ecosystem, ensuring food safety quality, and not interrupting the sites efficiency to operate,” says Stuart.

Fonterra has worked closely with Kaipara District Council on integration with their water supply and has support from Northland Regional Council and Te Uri o Hau (local iwi) for the initiative.

“The reclaimed water is treated using the natural wetland and our water treatment plant before it is reused throughout the site, including for drinking water.”

Stuart Glen, Maungatūroto Environmental Manager

“We’ve taken a holistic, circular and nature-based approach to look at how we could work in partnership with nature. By providing the right amount of nutrients for the native plants and habitat to thrive promotes greater biodiversity within the wetland,” says Stuart.

This initiative is a model that could be implemented at some of our other manufacturing sites across NZ, and also around the world.

This water saving initiative is also a finalist in this year’s Sustainable Business Awards