Nestle is closing a controversial water-bottling factory in Arizona after backlash from the drought-stricken state

nestle bottled waterNestleNestlé is closing a controversial Arizona water bottling plant.Nestle

Nestlé is closing a controversial Arizona water-bottling plant after years of backlash from the drought-stricken state. 

On Monday, officials announced plans to immediately close a water-bottling plant in Phoenix, Arizona, according to local news publications

The factory has sparked backlash since plans for its construction were announced in 2016. At the time, Nestlé said it planned to purchase 35 million gallons of water annually from the city of Phoenix, roughly 0.035% of the city's total water usage.

Read more: The CEO behind the biggest bottled-water brand in the world says the industry needs to solve a massive problem

More than 48,000 people signed a 2016 petition calling for the deal with Nestlé to be called off. However, Nestlé moved along with the plan.

"By operating closer to local customers and consumers, Nestlé Waters North America will reduce its carbon footprint," Nestlé said on its website. "Despite its arid location, the city of Phoenix provides renewable water supplies to municipal users, and carefully monitors withdrawals to safeguard the environment for the long term." 

Nestlé did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment on why the factory is closing. In a statement to the Arizona Republic, Hugues Larente, the company's Phoenix factory manager, said that the brand is "evolving" operations in response to the currently "highly competitive" nature of the bottled-water industry. 

As the maker of the largest bottled-water brand in the world, Nestlé is increasingly facing bottled-water backlash. 

"The challenges, I think they are real," Fernando Mercé, the president and CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, said of the backlash against bottled water during Beverage Digest's Future Smarts conference in December.

"I think you have to first, make sure that as an organization, you behave in a responsible way - that you are treating both the sourcing of water and the packing in the most responsible way you can," Mercé continued.

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