On target for zero waste: Separating waste material for recycling at Nestlé’s York factory
Waste disposal and recovery from our factories
Since 2002, we have almost halved the amount of waste for disposal generated in our factories per tonne of product. We are still on target to meet our 2015 goal of reducing waste for disposal on a comparable basis by 5% by 2015.
Striving for zero waste
In 2012, 39 factories generated zero waste for disposal (2011: 22) and more than 82% of the waste generated in our factories is reused or recovered.
It will be challenging to achieve zero waste at every factory due to the lack of appropriate recycling infrastructure in many countries, especially for hazardous waste. However, it is our ambition to achieve zero waste for disposal where technically feasible.
For example, in the UK, seven of our production facilities have been verified by Bureau Veritas as sending zero production waste to landfill. This is a major milestone towards our target of zero waste to landfill at all our 14 UK factories, including sister companies, by 2015. To add our existing zero-waste sites of York, Girvan and Dalston, our Hayes, Halifax, Fawdon and Tutbury sites were also verified as zero waste in 2012.
In 2012, we fine-tuned our reporting of waste and by-product volumes to comprehensively report by type and destination.
More than 75% of the sludge generated by Nestlé-owned waste water treatment plants is recovered. We then send it for controlled land spreading, sludge digestion, methanisation, and composting.
Only 1.3% (2011: 1.6%) of the waste we generate can be classified as hazardous waste, in accordance with local regulations and standards worldwide. This includes detergents, oils, fuels and grease.
Eliminating food waste throughout the value chain
We transform more than ten million tonnes of perishable raw materials into finished, shelf-stable products. Avoiding food waste at the various stages of the value chain gives us a great opportunity to save natural resources. We are working on a range of initiatives to address food loss along the value chain.
Reducing waste at post-harvest stage
To reduce food waste in agriculture and the post-harvesting stages of the product life cycle, we help farmers improve their crop quality and storage. We do so by applying our Responsible Sourcing Guidelines and implementing capacity-building programmes, technical assistance and knowledge sharing.
We are also partnering with a research institution to explore ways of reducing post-harvest losses in developing countries, with the aim of disseminating good practice.
Reducing waste during manufacture and production
In our factories, we continue to explore ways to recover valuable materials in food waste that can be used as a by-product. For example, implementing a new system in some of our factories in Mexico has helped us to recover by-product that remained in the pipes at the end of production cycle. Instead of using water to flush the remaining product away, the new system, known as pigging, pushes the product out of the pipe and allows further use, rather than generating waste.
In 20 Nescafé factories, coffee grounds from the manufacturing process are being used as a source of renewable energy. Product losses are processed for adding to farm animal feed. Furthermore, metals, plastics, paper, cans and cardboard are processed by contractors and traded as commodities. Any remaining material that does not currently have a viable recycling option is sent for incineration, with energy recovery as a first option.
We are also taking steps to improve our demand planning. This reduces food waste by supporting manufacturing efficiency; reducing wastage due to age, obsolescence or the inconvenient location of finished goods and increasing freshness at point of sale.
Raising awareness in our own operations
We run campaigns that encourage our employees to reduce food waste in canteens and factories. At our headquarters, for example, an awareness-raising campaign resulted in a 30% reduction in food waste.
At the product use stage, we can help consumers manage their food stocks better by offering right portion sizes and correct preparation instructions. For example, Nestlé Oceania has been helping consumers serve appropriately-sized portions for several years with the Nestlé ‘portion plate’.
Packaging, storage and distribution
By providing a barrier to moisture, gases, light, aromas and contamination, packaging reduces food waste through breakage and spoilage, and increases its shelf life. We use our storage and transport expertise and technology to avoid wastage in all the countries we operate in.
Working with charities to redistribute food
Nestlé UK continues its support to FareShare, a charity working to address food poverty and food waste. FareShare redistributes surplus, fit-for-consumption food from the food and catering industry to charities that serve an average of 35,000 homeless, disadvantaged or vulnerable people a day. In 2011, Nestlé UK donated over a million meals worth of food to FareShare, and as a consequence saved 460 tonnes of waste being diverted to landfill.