Bottled water and recycling

Location: Global

Impact Area

  • Nutrition
  • Water
  • Rural Development
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Compliance
  • Community engagement
  • Gender balance & diversity
Mar 31, 2012, updated March 2012

Bottled water and recycling
WATER BOTTLE RECYCLING:We use PET for water and ready-to-drink products in a number of countries because it is a lightweight, recyclable material.

We use recycled content in our packaging (paper, cardboard, PET, glass and tinplate) while making sure that the safety and quality of the product is not jeopardised.

We use PET for water and ready-to-drink products in a number of countries because it is a lightweight, recyclable material.

Programme description

Through renovation programmes, Nestlé Waters developed a new generation of lighter-weight bottles, caps and labels. The company’s Eco-Shape 0.5L PET bottle was one innovation to come out of this work, and it is now the dominant bottle format in North America.

In 2013, Nestlé Waters also created a new ‘ReBorn’ 0.5L water bottle for its Arrowhead brand of water, made with 50% recycled plastic (rPET), in the shape of the Eco-Shape bottle.

Our innovative lightweight range of Buxton bottles are one of the lightest bottled water bottles produced in the UK. They have a shorter neck and a sturdy, ergonomic shape that requires less plastic. Through their redesign, we achieved an average 25% reduction in the use of PET in their production across the range, with a 46% reduction in PET for the smaller 0.25L and 0.33L bottles.

In 2013, Nestlé Thailand reviewed the design of its small format Nestlé Pure Life and Minere PET bottles, which included replacing the 0.5L bottle with a new 0.6L bottle. This optimisation resulted in an average weight saving of 10% for the 0.6L and 1.5L formats, and an overall PET saving of 850 tonnes.

Vittel bottles in France are partly made with plant-based plastics for its 0.33L, 0.5L and 1L formats. This uses 30% bio-PET (the maximum renewable content that can be applied on an industrial scale) and is fully compatible with current collection, sorting and recycling systems. In 2013, this was extended to the Levissima range in Italy.

A comprehensive LCA study was completed by Nestlé Waters in 2013, with the help of the Nestlé Research Center and Packaging Environmental Sustainability Network experts. It demonstrated that the use of bio-PET made from sugar cane could generate environmental savings. Bio-based material from sugar cane waste and other plant-based materials have potential, which we continue to explore.

In Italy, Nestlé Waters commissioned a study into the social, economic and environmental contributions of PET recycling. The study found that from 2000 to 2010, the separation and recycling of mineral water bottles in general saved a total of CHF 1.45 billion (EUR 1.2 billion) across Italy and avoided 3 million tons of CO2. The recycling of San Pellegrino bottles alone saved CHF 280 million (EUR 232 million) and 550 000 tons of CO2, as well as creating around 204 000 tons of packaging and enabling raw materials worth more than CHF 42.35 million (EUR 35 million) to be salvaged.

Value to Society

Nestlé Waters was one of the founding signatories of the Plastic Matters initiative launched by Recoup (RECycling Of Used Plastics), a leading authority on plastic packaging recycling in the UK. The collaboration between industry and government will develop communications tools and guidance to help local authorities increase the collection of plastic packaging for recycling, and deliver more consistent messages for consumers.

In California, Nestlé Waters North America has partnered with CarbonLITE to build a new PET recycling facility that will process approximately 1.6 billion used PET bottles per year, to boost the recycled content of its containers.

Nestlé Waters North America has also been working with Recycling Reinvented, a non-profit organisation committed to advancing recycling rates for packaging in the US, both through seed funding and through our CEO’s leadership as a member of the organisation’s board.

Nestlé Waters Canada is a partner in the Canadian Beverage Container Recycling Association’s ‘Manitoba model’ of subsidised municipal kerbside recycling, public space recycling, and public education and awareness-raising to recycle 75% of non-alcoholic beverage containers by the end of 2016. Nestlé Waters Canada has successfully piloted recycling programmes in public spaces in Calgary, Ontario, Halifax and Richmond, and is looking to see how this Extended Producer Responsibility approach can be applied to promote solutions more broadly across North America.

Value to Nestlé

Next Steps