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Made Right Here: Nestle

By Amy Unger, Reporter, AUnger@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 11 2013 05:11:36 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 11 2013 09:54:43 PM CDT

It's the stuff you reach for on race day, or when you're just plain parched: Good ol' fashioned H2O.

It's the stuff you reach for on race day, or when you're just plain parched: Good ol' fashioned H2O.

Nestle doesn't make water, of course-- you can thank mother nature for that-- but you could say, Nestle makes water better.

“We take well water, we de-mineralize it, add our own minerals back to the water, and sell it as Nestle Pure Life,” said Peter Rittenhouse, Nestle’s Supply Chair Director for the East Coast.

The company has been chugging along in Upper Macungie Township, Lehigh County for awhile now.

Rittenhouse says Nestle started producing bottled water in the Lehigh Valley in 1995. A second plant was added in 2007; all the better to churn out bottled water in bulk.

“On a good day we'll produce seven million bottles a day here,” explained Rittenhouse, during a recent tour of the facility.

So how does the water get from the spring to your fridge? After it's processed and tested, it has to be bottled, of course. But to understand that process, you have to first think small. It all starts with tiny, round pellets of PET resin.

“We take these pellets and melt them until they become liquid, and then this creates the preform,” said Rittenhouse.

That "preform" looks a little like a plastic test tube. But it doesn't stay that size for long.

At the blow molder, the preform is converted into a bottle.

“We have a mini-explosion of high pressure air that forms the bottle to the dimensions of the mold,” said Rittenhouse.

The full-size bottles are then filled and capped. A high-speed camera checks to make sure that every bottle has a cap, and every cap it on straight.

Labeling and packaging come next. And then, off the bottles go to a supermarket near you. It sounds like a lengthy process, but Nestle has it down to a science.

“Oftentimes we'll take water from a spring, and produce it that day. It'll be in the store that afternoon,” said Rittenhouse.

That means your daily dose of liquid refreshment is always close at hand. And it's rolling off the assembly line right here in Lehigh County.