Key actions to fight plastic pollution
Plastic waste that accumulates in landfills and the environment is one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time.
Plastic waste endangers wildlife and threatens ecosystems and the food chain. We see plastic pollution as an urgent priority.
We can’t solve this problem alone, so we are collaborating with other companies, research institutes and governments around the world to identify ways to collectively reduce plastic waste in the environment.
Supporting a future where no Nestlé plastic packaging ends up in landfill or the ocean
Taking action to fight plastic pollution
Our aim is to use less virgin fossil-fuel-based plastic in our packaging. By eliminating unnecessary plastic (from tear-off bands to single-use items like straws), introducing reusable and refillable alternatives and switching to paper, bio-based and biodegradable materials, we are already reducing our plastic footprint.
As of the end of 2022, 81.9% of our plastic packaging could be recycled and we expect to reach more than 95% by 2025. We remain committed to achieving 100%. We are on track to reduce the use of newly made (virgin) plastic by one-third by 2025.
But our actions extend beyond the materials we use in our packaging. To help prevent our packaging from ending up in landfills, we are working to make recycling easier, by supporting infrastructure improvements and encouraging people to do what they can to tackle plastic pollution.
Creating change like this beyond our own operations requires strong collaboration. We are part of the Consumer Goods Forum’s Plastic Waste Coalition for Action, the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership and Plastic PACTS around the world. This highlights our aim to lead voluntary action by companies in this space.
In 2019, we joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy initiative. We pledged to work across the industry to create a circular economy for plastic, starting with packaging. We are eliminating unnecessary plastic in our packaging and innovating to make the plastic that we do need recyclable and reusable.
We are continuing to support governments by actively advocating for harmonized and better regulation to accelerate infrastructure development in markets where we operate. We advocate for a legally binding UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution and are an active member of advocacy group, the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty.
We are committed to playing an active role in the development of well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling schemes across the countries where we operate. The global infrastructure gap is significant and not in our control – but we are working to model successful collection with projects and activities around the world.
Towards plastic neutrality: Collecting as much plastic as we sell
In many countries, Nestlé teams up with partners working to recover and recycle as much plastic as we use in our packaging, based on a “one tonne in, one tonne out” principle known as “plastic neutrality”.
In 2022, Nestlé Philippines celebrated its second full year of plastic neutrality, preventing the plastic collected from reaching landfills or the ocean.
Making coffee pod recycling easier
Nestlé brand Nespresso has launched a new paper-based capsule that can be composted at home. The capsule is made using paper pulp with a biodegradable polymer. In Germany and Mexico, Nescafé has introduced consumer education campaigns to promote recycling. In the future, it is hoped that pods made of plastic, aluminum or both can all be recycled.
Piloting the reusable packaging systems of the future today
We are partnering with Circolution, a German start-up to test the next generation of standardized reusable food packaging containers. The Circolution and Nestlé partnership enables German consumers in select cities to enjoy Nesquik in standardized, reusable stainless-steel containers.
Circolution rents reusable containers to Nestlé, its first testing partner, and takes care of the cleaning, quality inspection, transport and assessment of environmental performance. Other food companies can also use the same container with their unique labelling and products.
Consumers can return the reusable packaging in reverse vending machines or to staff in stores, to receive their refund. Circolution estimates that after five lifecycles the environmental impact is like single-use glass packaging. The stainless-steel packaging has an estimated 75 lifecycles, estimated to save the equivalent of 36kg of glass, or 5kg of plastic over its lifetime.
Testing new solutions in refill to reduce Nestlé’s plastic packaging
Nestlé Indonesia and Nestlé's R+D Accelerator in Singapore have explored several packaging refill systems in the past year. In 2022, we tested a system with Siklus Indonesia where consumers order food and beverages including Nestlé Milo, Dancow, and Koko Krunch on an app and receive their products through a refill system via a bicycle service. The scheme, which supports the Indonesian government's ambition to reduce waste by 30% by 2025, is being examined as a potential model for reducing single-use plastic.
In 2023, we launched a pilot refill vending machine service at retail partners’ shops for Koko Krunch cereal and Milo. This is a partnership with Qyos, part of the venture-builder Enviu Indonesia and Algramo. Foods are packed into sealed dispensing cartridges at the factory, then dispensed directly into the consumer’s own container or a branded container at the retail location. By launching flexible cross-value chain tests with partners in machines, start-up management and retail, we seek to maximize consumer convenience and reduce the use of virgin plastic packaging materials.
Substituting hard-to-recycle materials with paper
Nestlé has introduced recyclable paper packaging for products including Maggi bouillon cubes, Nesquik, KitKat, Nescafé and others, often replacing multi-material wrappings that are hard to separate or recycle. At the same time, we have switched to paper straws for Nesquik, Nescau, Milo and Nescafé.
In 2021, Smarties became the first global Nestlé confectionery brand to switch to recyclable paper packaging. In 2022, Quality Street followed suit, introducing recyclable FSC-certified paper packaging for its twist-wrapped sweets worldwide.
Creating a global market for food-grade recycled plastics
Nestlé is investing up to CHF 2 billion to accelerate the development of more sustainable packaging and the infrastructure to support a circular economy for packaging materials.
Many plastics are difficult to recycle into food-grade packaging, creating a limited supply of food-grade recycled plastics. While this work gathers pace, we are committed to paying up to CHF 1.5 billion in premiums for food-grade recycled plastics up to 2025 to help stimulate a market for these materials.