We apply a product life cycle approach, involving our partners from farmer to consumer, to improve the environmental impact of our products and activities across six phases of activity, as follows:
Continual improvement of the environmental performance along the value chain
Our aim at all stages of the cycle is to use natural resources efficiently, especially water, to promote the use of sustainably managed renewable resources and to achieve zero waste.
Applying eco-design throughout the value chain
We conduct Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) on a continuous basis to identify the environmental impacts of our products across the whole value chain. To date, we’ve completed LCAs for all our product categories.
Nescafé Dolce Gusto
A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) helped us to identify areas of improvement in Nescafé Dolce Gusto. By implementing the new eco-mode (auto standby after 20 minutes), our new machine range, Melody, has improved its environmental performance (per 120 ml cup and compared to the first model launched in 2006) by reducing:
- GHG emissions: CO2 equivalent emissions reduced by 32%
- Non renewable primary energy: use of fossil fuels reduced by 41%, and
- Water use: reduced by 25%.
Launching a new eco-design tool
To make the life cycle assessment process faster, more efficient and applicable to every product development project, we have started the roll out of an eco-design tool called EcodEX, a multi-criteria eco-design tool that covers both packaging and ingredients and can be applied to all product categories.
Designed in partnership with software developer Selerant, EcodEX assesses different scenarios across a range of environmental indicators such as water, greenhouse gas emissions, non-renewable energy and minerals and ecosystem impact. It will also help us understand the trade-offs associated with our environmentally informed choices.
It will help us make environmentally informed choices on everything from ingredients to packaging to end-of-life options by systematically embedding environmental considerations into the way we make our products. We will continue roll-out of EcodEX out in 2013.
Continued use of existing tools
To optimise the environmental performance of our packaging, we continue to use the Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation (PIQET) tool for the eco-design of our packaging and the Global Environmental Footprint (GEF) tool for bottled water, which is ISO 14064-1:2006 and ISO 14040/44:2006 certified. See Packaging for more information.
Building scientific knowledge through R&D Centers
We have 32 R&D Centers that oversee science, technology and engineering to provide sustainability, quality and performance by product formulation, material and ingredient specifications and new and improved processes.
Our R&D Centers build capacity in environmental assessment throughout our R&D network and our operations via a group formed in 2010, called the Sustainability by Design Network. The network’s aim is to embed sustainability within our product development process through a ‘total value chain’ approach. To this end, environmental sustainability is now included in every product development brief and each product must have carried out a sustainability assessment before product development work can commence. From next year, EcodEX will continue to be rolled out as our global life cycle assessment tool.
As part of the Sustainability by Design network, and within each R&D Center, 32 sustainability champions are tasked with raising environmental awareness and sharing environmental knowledge amongst project managers and product development teams. In June 2012, our sustainability champions attended a three-day conference to discuss our current approach to environmental assessment and to encourage cross fertilisation of ideas.
We have also started to use technology to scan consumer chat fora to understand what consumers are saying about our products post-launch – specifically relating to environmental sustainability. This is highly complementary to our more conventional types of consumer testing.
Partnerships with industry and academia
We have an extensive programme of partnerships with major universities, research institutes, start-ups and ingredient, machinery or packaging suppliers to encourage innovation.
Partnering to improve environmental performance of consumer products
We support several initiatives around the world to spread understanding of environmental life cycle impacts. In 2012, we joined a new research partnership between industry and academia that aims to improve the environmental performance of consumer products and services. The group is run by the Interuniversity Research Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG) in Montreal, Canada. We are supporting its work with an investment of CAD 500,000 (almost CHF 460,000).
Collaborating with the European Commission
In 2012, we also continued our collaboration with the European Commission (EC) to test their product environmental footprint methodology on Nespresso, Nescafé, Vittel, Kitkat and Purina Gourmet. We presented the results at the 6th Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) World Congress, ‘securing a sustainable future: integrating science, policy and people.
The EC used these results in developing a harmonised methodology for assessing products in the European Union, called Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).
This work reinforces our current efforts in the European Round Table on Sustainable Food Consumption and Production. As well as co-chairing the Round Table with the European Commission, we have issued a testing version of the ENVIFOOD Protocol, the first harmonised assessment methodology for the food and beverages sector.
Improving public LCA databases
The quality of LCAs is constrained by the availability of environmental data on food ingredients. To address this challenge, we collaborate with governments to develop public databases, such as the one provided by the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management, ADEME. We also sponsor the development of the World Food Database.