Nestlé, headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, has announced a series of specific actions designed to help the company meet its April 2018 commitment to make its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. Additionally, the company shared its plans focused on avoiding plastic waste.
"Our broader vision and action plan outline our commitment and specific approach to addressing the plastics packaging waste issue,” Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider says. “While we are committed to pursuing recycling options where feasible, we know that 100 percent recyclability is not enough to successfully tackle the plastics waste crisis. We need to push the boundaries and do more. We are determined to look at every option to solve this complex challenge and embrace multiple solutions that can have an impact now. We believe in the value of recyclable and compostable paper-based materials and biodegradable polymers in particular where recycling infrastructure does not exist.”
He continues, “Collective action is vital, which is why we are also engaging consumers, business partners and all of our Nestlé colleagues to play their part.”
Nestlé says it is taking steps to pioneer alternative materials, shape a waste-free future and drive behavior change.
In December 2018, Nestlé announced that it established its Institute of Packaging Sciences to evaluate and develop various sustainable packaging materials and to collaborate with industrial partners to develop new packaging materials and solutions.
Between 2020 and 2025, Nestlé will phase out its use of plastics that are not recyclable or are hard to recycle and will roll out alternative packaging materials across its global product portfolio, establishing partnerships with cutting-edge packaging specialists:
- In February, Nestlé will begin to eliminate plastic straws from its products, instead using alternative materials like paper and designs to reduce littering.
- Nestlé also says it plans to introduce paper packaging for Nesquik in the first quarter of 2019 and for the Yes! snack bar in the second half of 2019. Smarties will start using plastic-free packaging in 2019, and Milo will introduce paper-based pouches in 2020.
- Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content in its bottles to 35 percent by 2025 at the global level and will reach 50 percent in the United States, with a specific focus on its Poland Spring brand. In addition, Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content for its European brands Acqua Panna, Buxton, Henniez and Levissima to 50 percent by 2025, the company says.
Successful recycling requires adequate infrastructure, Nestlé says, which is not always established. The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences is exploring new paper-based materials and biodegradable / compostable polymers that also are recyclable, among other alternatives. This could become a valuable option in places where recycling infrastructure does not yet exist and will not be available for some time, the company says.
Nestlé also is collaborating with Danimer Scientific, Bainbridge, Georgia, to develop a marine biodegradable and recyclable bottle for its water business.
The company also is in collaboration with PureCycle Technologies of Ohio to produce food-grade recycled polypropylene (PP). PureCycle Technologies is commercializing recycling technologies that can remove color, odor and contaminants from plastic scrap, transforming it into virgin-like resin. (For an article on PureCycle Technologies, click here.)
Nestlé says it has a longer term ambition to stop plastic leakage into the environment across its global operations. This will help avoid further accumulation of plastics in nature and achieve plastic neutrality, the company says.
Plastic waste in the ocean poses a particular threat to Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries, Nestlé says. Therefore, the company has become the first food company to partner with Project STOP, which was launched in Indonesia in 2017. Project STOP is a leading initiative to prevent the leakage of plastic into the ocean by developing partnerships with cities and governments in Southeast Asia. Project STOP is creating sustainable, circular and low-cost waste systems that capture as much value from waste as possible, Nestlé says. It supports the many existing local initiatives and informal waste pickers in Indonesia's coastal areas. Over the coming months, Nestlé says it will take what it learns from this project to other countries where it operates in an effort to deliver plastic neutrality in those markets.
All 4,200 Nestlé facilities worldwide are committed to eliminating single-use plastic items that cannot be recycled. These items will be replaced by materials that can be recycled easily or reused, the company says. For recyclables such as PET and aluminum, Nestlé says it will ensure the proper means to collect and handle these materials are available and its commitment to recycling is well-communicated.
Nestlé employees will volunteer to remove litter and participate in cleanup activities on World Ocean Day June 8. To lead the way, Nestlé's executive board and employees at the company’s global headquarters in Switzerland will volunteer to clean the shores of Lake Geneva in May.
“Responding to the plastic waste challenge and striving for zero environmental impact in its operations is an integral part of Nestlé's commitment to creating shared value for shareholders and society,” the company states in its news release.