We use pulp and paper products for food packaging, wrapping and transportation, as well as in our office stationery and marketing materials. Deforestation is a key challenge in some geographies where pulp and paper are produced. It has serious environmental consequences, including losses in ecosystem services and natural habitats, as well as putting strain on the people who depend upon forests. We are committed to eliminating deforestation from our supply chain. However, we are also focusing on addressing associated challenges like forest degradation and its impact on carbon storage, biodiversity and community well-being. We consider forest degradation a key issue in some of the sourcing landscapes where we want to drive forest-positive approaches.
Our pulp and paper supply chain
* 55% of our total pulp and paper category covered by our responsible sourcing program in 2020 was from recycled materials. Our pulp and paper baseline volume is based on supply chain mapping conducted in 2020 which covered 85% of our known 2019 purchases.
** We classify our pulp and paper products as responsibly sourced if the fiber originates from:
- Recovered sources
- A Low Priority Country of Harvest
- Certified sources declared at the pulp mill level
- Assessed sources meeting our Responsible Sourcing Standard
Our approach to sourcing pulp and paper sustainably
We aim to source only pulp and paper that meet our supply chain deforestation-free commitment, or at the very least, come from suppliers making measurable progress toward meeting it. Our category-specific requirements for pulp and paper, developed in conjunction with our partner Earthworm Foundation, include:
- Adherence to local and national regulations and laws
- Protection of high-carbon-stock forests
- Protection of high-conservation-value sites
- No development on peat, regardless of depth
- Respecting the process of free, prior and informed consent
Our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2.4Mb) reinforces our specific commitments on deforestation and forest stewardship, rural development and water stewardship. We use certifications such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) to demonstrate compliance, seeking collaboration opportunities with these organizations to improve standards where appropriate.
Growing demand for fiber and forests
Forests around the world are facing increased pressure from humans for the products and services they provide. Climate change is making forests more susceptible to pest outbreaks and fires while growing demand is being placed on them to act as carbon stores and havens for biodiversity.
In response, we are analyzing our key priority sourcing landscapes to better understand the ecological and social impacts of our production and sourcing processes on forest environments. Our analysis is taking place across Dvinsky, Russia; Southeastern US; British Columbia, Canada; Northern Sweden; and Giam Siak Kecil, Indonesia.
In practice, this means engaging supply chain partners to understand their operations and any expansion plans. It also means collaborating to find a balance between production and protection. These efforts allow us to support healthy and productive forest landscapes in line with our Responsible Sourcing Standard (pdf, 2.4Mb) and Net Zero Roadmap (pdf, 7.8Mb) commitments.
Since 2018, we have published a list of our direct suppliers (pdf, 300Kb) and the related pulp mills in our upstream supply chain This helps hold our suppliers and ourselves accountable and drives industry-wide transparency. It also aids us in focusing resources on tracking supplier progress and tackling the most relevant supply chain challenges to drive responsible forest management. We have seen that others follow suit, which is encouraging, however, more effort is still needed within our sector. We are engaged in initiatives such as the Consumer Goods Forum’s Forest Positive Coalition of Action to make transparency the industry norm as part of the Paper, Pulp and Fibre-based Packaging (PPP) Roadmap.
In 2010, we made a supply chain commitment that all our products, globally, will not be associated with deforestation by 2020. Since 2010, we have used several tools, including supply chain mapping, certification, on-the-ground verification and, more recently, Starling satellite monitoring, to ensure our pulp and paper are not linked to deforestation or forest degradation. As of December 2020, 94% of the pulp and paper we buy was assessed as deforestation-free (pdf). We will continue to work with our partners and suppliers to close the gap.
Many of the concerns that gave rise to our no-deforestation commitments also motivate us to address forest degradation and the loss of key forest attributes, such as biodiversity and carbon storage. Indeed, degradation in these forested landscapes can lead to fragmentation and, ultimately, deforestation.
Sometimes, it can be easy to identify deforestation that breaches our policy. For example, converting rainforests to tree plantations clearly violates our specific requirement to protect high conservation value (HCV) forests and peatlands. However, other forests from which we source carry inherently low risks of deforestation or significant degradation. These include long-established plantations and other areas where there is a high level of governance from national, environmental and social organizations. Between these extremes, there is a wide and varied range of degradation. At the severe end of this spectrum, forests may verge on deforestation even if there is no unambiguous breach of policies, raising challenges to the principle of ‘responsible’ production.
We must progress quickly to improve traceability. Innovations, particularly in digital technologies, are a key part of this. In 2018, we started using SupplyShift, a cloud-based platform to collect and analyze data to map our supply chain for our global corrugated and solid board suppliers. We are still trialing this technology to see how it can help us gather the data necessary to drive supplier engagement and purchasing decisions that meet our responsible sourcing commitments. To date, it has been particularly useful in increasing our reach to smaller suppliers to raise awareness on our expectations and traceability information.
We are also partnering with Airbus and Earthworm Foundation to use Starling to identify forest loss in our supply chain. It will also help us understand whether this is resulting in the deforestation and degradation of HCV forests. Following the development of base maps, we undertook field missions in 2019 to gauge the accuracy of the data. We have since used this technology to analyze changes in forest cover across four key priority landscapes: Northwest Russia; Southeastern US; British Columbia, Canada; and Sumatra, Indonesia. This increased visibility allows us to observe changes in real-time. The information has informed more targeted discussions with suppliers on forest cover change alerts and supported the development of forest-positive interventions and solutions with them and other stakeholders.
In 2021, we will use the Starling data from these four landscapes to map trends in forest biomass and carbon to support future resource use planning decisions. Our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 will also push us to seek new innovations to inset emissions through restoration and conservation activities in these landscapes and other forest sources with our pulp and paper suppliers.
The heavily forested Arkhangelsk Oblast in Russia is a key sourcing area for Nestlé. Given the presence of intact forest landscapes (IFLs), an HCV category, we have been engaging with our suppliers in the region for the last six years to understand their forestry operations and our exposure to fiber from IFLs.
Our initial visits in 2016 with Earthworm Foundation indicated that the extensive forest model in Russia was contributing to putting these IFLs under pressure as forestry companies sought new, unexploited areas to log. We are committed to remaining engaged with our suppliers and leveraging our influence to improve practices in line with our expectations.
We are exploring how to balance the competing needs in the region. Any solution must support forest sector production while understanding resource availability and opportunities for intensive forestry management models. Solutions must also prioritize the protection of IFLs and biodiversity while supporting rural communities that depend on these landscapes.
In 2020, we supported a project between Earthworm Foundation and the WWF to study the local ecology and perform socioeconomic mapping of forest-dependent communities to identify livelihood alternatives. The findings will be used to raise stakeholder awareness of the issues and bolster our support of ongoing activities that meet our commitment to continual landscape improvements. We will continue this engagement in 2021 and beyond, as part of an evolving landscape initiative being driven by WWF, Earthworm, FSC and other interested stakeholders.
We have also used Starling to monitor landscapes and concessions that supply us with fiber. This helps us determine forest cover change within IFL and the newly created Dvina Pinega Reserve, which forms the core of the Dvinsky IFL. This has expanded our understanding of the catchment area and informed discussions with key suppliers operating there.
Protecting children and workers
Social conflicts around land use and land rights are frequent in Brazil and throughout Latin America. These conflicts relate to historical occupation of the territory, the fragility of existing land governance systems and how companies initially acquired land for forest plantations.
We are a staunch supporter of Earthworm Foundation’s Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) training program, which aims to address expertise gaps in this field. The program is establishing a set of practices in the private sector that protect community rights and prevent social conflicts by creating shared values between forestry companies and local communities, including Indigenous peoples. Our support of the program in conjunction with 3M helps us align expectations on respecting community rights.
In 2019, Earthworm Foundation ran a training program called FPIC: From Theory to Practice. It was attended by 27 individuals from six companies, representing around 30% of the planted forest area in Brazil. Two of these companies received coaching on implementing FPIC pilot projects. To date, two case studies have been published, documenting the projects’ approaches, sharing learnings and inspiring more companies and stakeholder to transform how they do things.
In 2020, we supported several activities to strengthen implementation of community and indigenous people’s rights throughout the Brazilian pulp and paper sector. This included a five-year partnership with FSC Brazil and the Cooperative Program for Forest Certification within the Forestry Research Institute of the University of São Paulo. Through the partnership, we will promote and improve social management practices, including FPIC. It launched several resources in 2020, including:
- A webinar in June about the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the forest sector.
- Remote FPIC foundations training in August. Three representatives from the FSC Brazil Standard Development Committee participated, as well as 25 Brazilian forest companies representing approximately 40% of forest plantations.
- A Q&A about applying FPIC principles to the forest sector in September.
Digital FPIC resources were also created to support and scale up training through Earthworm Foundation’s Centre of Social Excellence program. We will continue to support the development of FPIC training throughout 2021.
Recovered fiber is an important component in several of our packaging products, making up 55% of the scope of our work on pulp and paper. The reuse of waste packaging helps reduce demands for virgin fiber and decreases pressure on forests. Informality of waste collection in some of our recovered fiber supply chains results in social challenges and we are developing our understanding of how we can play a role in improving practices. Our initial focus is in India and Brazil. Our efforts overlap with our work on plastics and where we are increasingly seeking interventions across our ingredients and products.
In Brazil, we partnered with Earthworm Foundation and recycling co-operative You Green to secure a supply of high-quality recovered wood fiber. At the same time, the partnership aims to generate positive social impact through a scalable social franchise model. Throughout 2020, we supported the development of this model, as well as the necessary programs and tools to train one of our co-operatives. In 2021, we will expand our reach to include at least four more co-operatives. We will also engage other like-minded organizations on these issues through an impact hub on recycling and other initiatives in urban landscapes.
Run in partnership with Earthworm Foundation, the Rurality program supports producers and buyers to build stronger connections with stakeholders, helping improve livelihoods and social conditions for them and their communities.
One example of this is a project with smallholder acacia farmers supplying a chip mill in Nestlé’s pulp and paper supply chain in Bình Thuận Province, Vietnam. In 2018, Earthworm Foundation conducted an initial diagnostic exercise to understand the supply chain, conditions on the ground and opportunities to improve smallholder resilience. The project identified several challenges, including poor-quality seedlings and agricultural practices that lead to low productivity, a lack of awareness of pest and disease control, and health and safety. They also limited options for income diversification and resulted in declining soil fertility due to poor land management. Since then, Earthworm Foundation has used these findings to inform transformative actions. In 2020, Rurality:
- Provided coordination, logistics and training support for 28 farmers to plant 264 000 high-quality acacia seedlings on harvested areas of their farms. This represents more than 100 hectares of smallholder plantations planted with improved genetic quality planting stock, the first step to increasing smallholder yields. Farmers planting high-quality seedlings and following good management practices over the lifespan of the plantation (five years on average) are expected to increase net profit from acacia by 20%.
- Supported 88 farmers to restore riparian areas in acacia plantations with co-funding from One Tree Planted. In total, the activity involved the planting of 32 722 tree species and 97 642 other species (bamboo and vetiver) with the aim of reducing soil erosion, improving threatened species and habitat resilience, and sequestering carbon within our supply chain.
- Provided capacity-building training to 301 smallholder acacia farmers throughout the year on topics such as improving plantation growth and yield, soil health and fertility, reducing carbon emissions, diversifying livelihoods, health and safety and first aid. In addition, Rurality supported the establishment of 21 demonstration models to offer local examples of good agricultural practices and livelihood diversification, providing peer learning opportunities that are critical to facilitating the transfer of technology and new innovations to smallholders.
- Supported the establishment of a local farmers group in December 2019. As of September 2020, this group has been formally recognized by the local government with official registration. Throughout 2020, the group, which currently has 10 members, began implementing a farmer-to-farmer training model organized by Rurality. The model provides group and individual training, access to agricultural inputs and demonstration models for how updating practices can help farmers adapt and enhance their resilience.
Collective action and engagement
We recognize we have a responsibility to tackle issues in our pulp and paper supply chain. However, as a single organization, we do not always have the leverage to drive and scale up change. This is why we engage in industry-wide collaborations like the Consumer Goods Forum’s Forest Positive Coalition. Through the PPP Working Group, the Coalition is developing a roadmap for action, an important step toward building collective action and transforming the entire industry.
We also actively seek opportunities to collaborate with like-minded companies on key issues and in priority landscapes. In 2020, we partnered with Mars, Inc. and 3M on different activities in Southeastern US, Canada, Brazil and Russia. Through these partnerships, we jointly funded ecological network and socioeconomic studies in Russia, developed supplier workshops in Canada to raise awareness of ecological and socioeconomic issues and participated in FPIC trainings in 3M’s Brazilian offices.
Nestlé has actively participated in a program to address sourcing risks associated with IFL and caribou habitat degradation, as well as infringements on the rights of Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, Canada. Alongside 3M, and Mars Inc., we have supported the indigenous Tsay Keh Dene Nation to gain protection for key areas of land against harvesting for pulp and paper. The Tsay Keh Dene will be leading high conservation value assessments across their territory to identify and protect its most unique and critical areas. The aim is that these assessments will form the foundation of agreements with local industry players on which areas can be responsibly harvested and which must be preserved.
We are engaging our intermediary suppliers in these conversations. In November, we hosted a webinar alongside Mars Inc., 3M and Earthworm Foundation to include people throughout our supply chains in solutions. The webinar reached 48 people and 12 suppliers, bringing us one step closer to guaranteeing that the Tsay Keh Dene’s land rights are respected, and important landscape areas protected.
In Indonesia, we are involved in efforts to protect remaining forests and peatland from degradation and deforestation in the Giam Siak Kecil bioreserve of Riau, Sumatra Island. The reserve covers over 700 000 hectares and is predominantly tropical peat swamp forest. It plays a vital role as a natural water reservoir and carbon sink and is home to important wildlife such as Sumatran elephants and tigers. Of the total area, 25% is already allocated for conservation purposes. The remaining 75% is a mix of production areas for pulp and paper, palm oil, and company and community-owned agriculture. The presence of multiple actors in this area has resulted in a complicated overlap of interests, various tenure conflicts and human versus wildlife conflicts. The enduring presence of illegal logging and land conversion is also contributing to forest degradation in the area.
In addition to using Starling satellite technology to understand where forest is being cleared, we are working with stakeholders to identify motives for land conversion. In 2020, we invested in Earthworm Foundation’s Kumacaya Initiative, an independent verification system that employs local people to monitor activities and record any environmental, community and labor grievances observed by local communities. By combining insights from Kumacaya with data collected by Starling and engaging with the relevant companies and stakeholders, we can identify solutions that prevent deforestation and biodiversity loss while supporting local community livelihoods.
In 2020, we also contributed to the provision of alternative livelihoods for community members in two local villages outside of our supply chain. Following a year of engagement facilitated by Earthworm Foundation, 30 community members who previously worked as illegal loggers are now cultivating local multi-purpose trees including durian, dog fruit, areca nut and candlenut. Nestlé funding supported the development of village nurseries to prepare these, and other, local seedlings to help restore forests. Earthworm Foundation will continue supporting these communities until the new plantations generate satisfactory yields. In 2021, we aim to expand this work to an additional three villages in the area and train a local forest patrol group.