A Nestlé water plant has been searched by police inspectors in France yesterday (9 April) amid allegations of the illegal dumping of plastic bottle residue.

The search took place at the group’s water bottling site in Vosges, a Nestlé spokesperson confirmed to Just Drinks.

They concerned an investigation “opened in the past on the environmental aspects of the former landfills”.

“As we have done since the beginning of the investigation, we continue to cooperate fully with the authorities”, the spokesperson said.

“Two-thirds of the affected sites have already been cleaned up by Nestlé Waters and we are awaiting feedback from the environmental authorities to specify the best management option for the remaining three sites.

“While these former landfills date back to the 1960s, before Nestlé Waters became the owner, our commitment to act and do what is necessary in relation to these former landfills remains unchanged.”

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The spokesperson added Nestlé was “committed to taking action and financing everything necessary for the management of the former landfills, under the control of the environmental authorities”. 

According to local radio station France Bleu Sud Lorraine, the search relates to a complaint lodged last year by national environmental activist group Collectif Eau 88.

At the time, the group claimed more than 40,000 cubic metres of PVC was being left to sit in landfills by Nestlé in the Saint-Ouen-lès-Parey and They-sous-Montfort regions.

Speaking to France Bleu Sud Lorraine, Collectif Eau 88 member Bernard Schmitt said: “The Saint-Ouen-lès-Parey landfill is closed and is not accessible. On the other hand, the one located in They-sous-Montfort is accessible and I would say open to the four winds.”

He added the sites posed a “risk of chemical pollution in the short term and then physical pollution with micro and nano plastics”.

Commenting on the latest search, Schmitt said “things are moving forward, with specialized and increasingly competent courts”.

The move is said to bear no relation to the ongoing investigation into the quality and treatment of Nestlé’s bottled waters.

In January, Nestlé confirmed it had breached French water laws through its treatment of some of its bottled waters.

The following month, an inquest was launched into the company’s water treatment.

Local prosecutors from Épinal law courts in north-eastern France are said to be leading the investigation, according to Le Monde.

Just last week, France’s Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) revealed it had notified the country’s government of its doubts over the quality of Nestlé’s mineral water last October.

In a statement sent to Just Drinks at the time, ANSES said its assessment “attests to an insufficient level of confidence” in the quality of the water.

Nestlé defended the quality of its water bottles in response, confirming to Just Drinks that its bottled water products were all safe to consume.