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Improving packaging performance

Scientist testing

Our commitment

Improve the environmental performance of our packaging 


We need packaging to keep food safe, protect it during transportation, extend shelf life and reduce waste. However, these requirements should not come at the expense of the planet, which is why we are innovating solutions with stronger sustainability credentials.

Demonstrating our commitment

To further drive innovation and understanding of a circular economy for plastics, Nestlé became a partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy initiative. This initiative brings together key stakeholders to rethink and redesign the future of plastic.

In 2020, we used 4.5 million tonnes (2019: 4.6 million tonnes) of materials for packaging purposes. Of this our total global plastics and laminates use was 1.3 million tonnes in 2020 (2019: 1.5 million tonnes). We have reduced total packaging tonnage by approximately 3% from 2019 to 2020.

We are making progress toward achieving a waste-free future. In 2020, 88% of Nestlé's total packaging by weight (2019: 87% by weight) and 62% of its total plastic packaging was recyclable or reusable (2019: 66% total plastic by weight). In 2020, recycled materials constituted 35% of packaging used, including 4.2% recycled plastic in plastic packaging.

Consumers around the world buy more than one billion Nestlé products every day. This meant that in 2020, Nestlé used 352 billion pieces (2019: 366 billion) overall pieces of packaging, of which 269 billion (2019: 281 billion) were pieces of plastic. We know we have more work to do, which is why we are accelerating our actions.

We use several types of plastics in our packaging.

  2019 2020
PET (Polyester) 40% 39%
PE (Polyethylene) 29% 17.8%
PP (Polypropylene) 9% 15.5%
PO (Polyolefin) 4% 7.8%
Laminates 17% 19.1%
Others 1% 0.8%
Not allocated 0% 0%


Reusable packaging

We calculate the weight of reusable packaging by dividing the weight of a package, by the number of planned rotations into use of the package over its lifetime. This results in an expressed weight of packaging that is significantly lower that the equivalent single use packaging tonnage we have offset. For example, a reusable bottle that weighs 1 kilogram and is projected to be used 10 times, will be calculated as a package weighing 100 grams, not 1 kilogram.

Our total reusable packaging in 2020 was 21,000 tonnes. Total plastic reusable packaging was 15,000 tonnes. Based on weight, our reusable packaging was 0.5% of total packaging, and 1.1% of plastic packaging in 2020.

88 %
30 %

Harnessing the power of paper packaging

We want to offer more of our consumer favorites in environmentally sustainable packaging. In 2019, we inaugurated our Institute of Packaging Sciences – the first of its kind in our industry – to accelerate this ambition.

In September 2020, we launched Maggi bouillon cubes in paper wrappers for the very first time. These wrappers are the result of extensive research by a dedicated team of scientists and engineers, and replace the multi-material versions that are hard to recycle.

The new packaging is recyclable and made from sustainably sourced paper – from pulp and paper mills certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

paper packaging

Collecting as much plastic as we used in the Philippines

In August 2020, Nestlé Philippines reached a crucial milestone in the fight against packaging waste. The team collected and recovered the same volume of plastic packaging as was used to protect our products throughout the month: 2400 tonnes. By processing the plastic, we diverted it from landfill and prevented it from leaking into the environment.

The volume collected had risen to nearly 10 000 tonnes by October 2020. Having reached this landmark achievement, Nestlé Philippines is committed to maintaining efforts by collecting as much plastic as it produces every month.

Nestlé Philippines will continue working toward a waste-free future, building on partnerships with organizations such as the Plastic Credit Exchange and Pure Oceans.

Packaging-free pet food straight to your doorstep in Chile

We want to make responsible consumption the easy option. Nestlé Purina has combined sustainability with convenience in Santiago, Chile, with an innovative new bulk delivery system for Purina Dog Chow.

The system, developed with reusable packaging company Algramo, brings Purina products straight to consumers’ doors. An app makes choosing quantity and type simple, while electric delivery vehicles with automatic dispensing systems allow pet owners to fill up their own reusable containers.

alternative distribution method

Promoting recycling in Germany and Mexico

We are dedicated to reducing our packaging waste and we want consumers to be just as engaged with their own recycling efforts. That is why Nescafé Dolce Gusto launched campaigns across Germany and Mexico, encouraging coffee drinkers to recycle their used pods.

In Germany, pod packaging displays a clear call to action, with simple illustrations explaining how the pods and cardboard containers should be recycled. An animated online infographic demonstrates how pods are then transformed into new products.

In Mexico, this campaign has been running for several years. As well as showing consumers how and where to recycle pods, a specially designated webpage offers unique craft projects for upcycling them.

Despite a challenging year, we have accelerated efforts to bring functional, safe and more environmentally sustainable packaging solutions to market, shortening the time from idea to pilot or launch. Together with our global R&D network and external partners, we developed novel technologies and solutions to launch products in paper-based packaging, pilot new alternative delivery systems and advance other reusable or recyclable solutions.

Gerhard Niederreiter Head of Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences