What is Nestlé doing to tackle plastic packaging waste?
We have an ambition to make 100% of our packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025 and are working hard to achieve this.
We’re addressing complex packaging materials such as paper and plastic combinations and multilayer flexible packaging, and exploring switching to easier ‘mono-materials’ or simple packaging types such as paper – to simplify the number and type of layers used in multilayer plastic packaging.
This ambition focuses on three core areas – eliminating non-recyclable plastics, encouraging use of plastics that allow for better recycling rates, and working to eliminate or change complicated combinations of packaging materials such as paper/plastics, laminates, etc.
We’re also working to increase the proportion of recycled plastic we use in our packaging, and have announced a commitment to using 25% recycled PET (‘rPET’) in our bottles across Europe by 2025. In addition to changing our packaging, we’re also working collaboratively with other industry players to help develop better packaging waste management systems including effective recycling processes.
What about the issue of single-serve packaging?
As the number of single households continues to rise, demands for smaller portion sizes continues to increase, which is why single-serve products have become so popular in recent years. We recognise that single-serve packaging, which is often also ‘single use’, represents a very large proportion of waste plastic in the environment.
This is a critical issue that we need to address, and we’re working with others to find effective scalable solutions, including alternative packaging types, improving collection after use and developing effective recycling infrastructure.
Why do you use PET bottles & how do you encourage their recycling?
PET provides lightness, resistance and transparency, and is a 100% recyclable material. However, half of all bottles are not recycled – a significant amount end up in landfill or as marine debris.
As a global player in bottled water, Nestlé recognises our responsibility to help unlock the full economic, social and environmental benefits of PET bottles as a reusable resource.
We are developing collaborative projects with all plastics stakeholders that could improve plastics collection, and will share our findings to assess whether they can be scaled-up or replicated. For example, in the US we have invested USD $6 million in the Closed Loop Fund (which pools money from business, government and community partners), to develop recycling infrastructure programmes in US cities.
Consumers also have vital role to play. We’ve helped raise awareness through brand platforms and corporate education programmes, such as R-Generation in Italy, Argentina, United Kingdom and Thailand. In North America, we’ve introduced clear and consistent How2Recycle instructions to the labels of half-litre bottles for all our major US brands. We will continue to use the strength of our brands to encourage consumers to recycle.
How are you making PET bottles more sustainable?
We apply ‘recyclable by design’ principles and carry out lifecycle assessments to minimise the environmental footprint of all our beverage bottles. Over the past 10 years we’ve reduced the amount of PET we need for each litre of bottled water by 22%.
We are also incorporating recycled PET (r-PET) into bottles. For example, our Arrowhead brand in the United States now ensures that all its bottles made in California incorporate 50% post-consumer recycled plastic. Nestlé Pure Life has introduced a 700ml bottle made from 100% recycled plastic in North America.
In 2016 we co-founded the NaturALL Bottle Alliance, with Danone and Origin Materials, to scale-up the next generation of bio-sourced PET, using biomass feedstocks – such as cardboard and wood pulp – that do not divert resources or land from food production. We are working to develop a PET bottle made from 100% sustainable and renewable resources, and will make the technology available to the entire food and beverage industry.
How is Nestlé improving packaging sustainability generally?
In recent years, we have made considerable progress in minimising the amount of packaging used for our products, while ensuring their quality and safety. Through our eco-design process, we are on track to reach our objective to avoid 140,000 tonnes of packaging materials by 2020, versus 2015.
By the end of 2017, we had eliminated more than 100,000 tonnes of packaging materials from our production processes. That’s equivalent to 10 Eiffel Towers.
Before April 2018, Nestlé had committed to improving the environmental performance of our packaging. This included reducing the overall volume of packaging materials we use. Our new commitments build on this foundation, to create a more targeted approach to tackling the issue of plastic packaging.
We continue to optimise packaging in line with our Policy on Environmental Sustainability (pdf, 320Kb), not only by reducing the amount we use, but also by using innovative materials or packaging solutions, to improve packaging performance and transportation impacts.
Why do you use plastics and not more ‘eco-friendly’ alternatives?
Food packaging plays a key role in protecting food, preventing food waste and ensuring the safety and quality of our products until you eat them. We use plastics because they are durable, hygienic, safe, inexpensive, lightweight and strong.
We aim to use packaging with the lowest possible environmental impact. In every country where Nestlé operates, we must comply with food regulations and standards, which often dictates the types of material we can use to package our products.
New technology and innovations bring a wider choice of packaging materials and more environmentally friendly formats. We recognise this, which is why we’re committed to working with our partners and industry associations to explore packaging solutions – to reduce plastic usage, facilitate recycling and develop new approaches to eliminating plastic waste.
How does Nestlé help develop plastics collection, sorting and recycling schemes?
We take an active role in the development of well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling schemes in the countries where we operate. To tackle the global issues of plastic packaging waste, industry players, local and national governments, civil society and consumers all have a vital role to play.
The work we do to depends upon how waste is managed in a particular location, but could include the development of deposit return schemes (DRS) or extended producer responsibility (EPR) approaches. We will use our experience and technical expertise to add value and take a leadership role to drive industry change where we can.
What about micro-plastics in bottled water?
Please visit our dedicated Ask Nestlé page on micro-plastics.
Read about our commitment to improve the environmental performance of our packaging
Find out more in Nestlé Waters in the United States and Canada
Still have a question? Please get in touch