Nestlé intensifies its sustainable packaging transformation journey

Unveils new actions, progress in shaping a waste-free future

Nestlé headquarter in Vevey, Switzerland. Photo - Nestlé

Nestlé is intensifying its actions to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and to reduce its use of virgin plastics by one-third in the same period. The company announced a series of new initiatives that include a US$ 30 million investment to increase food-grade recycled plastics in the US, a refillable system for pet food in Chile, and first-of-its-kind recyclable paper packaging for Maggi bouillon cubes in France. Nestle said 87% of Nestlé’s total packaging by weight and 66% of its total plastic packaging is already recyclable or reusable.

Véronique Cremades-Mathis, global head of Sustainable Packaging, Nestlé, said, “We have made strides in our transformative journey towards a waste-free future, but we know that we have more work to do. As the world’s largest food and beverage company, we’re committed to putting our size and scale to work to tackle the packaging waste problem everywhere that we operate.”

Even as Covid-19 has presented more challenges, the company’s commitment to sustainable packaging remains the same. Nestlé continues to play a leading role in helping solve the issue of plastic pollution through its three-pillar approach launched in January 2019

Pillar 1 – Developing new packaging

Nestlé is transitioning to paper packaging across various formats. For example, Smarties sharing block, a popular color-coated chocolate confectionery product, is available in a recyclable paper wrapper in the UK. Gerber and Piltti baby food use a first-of-its-kind, single material pouch designed to increase recycling value. Nespresso introduced new capsules made with 80% recycled aluminum, an essential step towards circularity. Nestlé’s water business has doubled the amount of rPET used since 2019 across its still water portfolio in the US to 16.5%.

Pillar 2 – Shaping a waste-free future

In August 2020, Nestlé Philippines reached plastic neutrality, which means the company collected and co-processed the equivalent amount of plastic as contained in the products sold and prevented the further flow of plastic into landfills and oceans. Together with Project STOP, Nestlé creates a sustainable waste management system and helps reduce ocean plastic pollution in Indonesia.

Nestlé embarked on a trial to collect, sort, and process soft plastics in Australia. The company is scaling up reusable and refillable options for its Petcare and soluble coffee products, for instance, through collaboration with the start-up company MIWA in Switzerland. It advocates for the design and implementation of affordable and effective mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility schemes. It has identified 20 countries, accounting for 50% of its plastic usage, where the company will support recycling rates and waste management infrastructure.

Pillar 3 – Driving new behavior

Nestlé is rolling out a sustainable packaging education and training program for over 290’000 employees to accelerate behavior change and help the company meet its packaging objectives. The company has introduced a digital platform to help consumers dispose of their packaging waste appropriately in Italy. Nescafé Dolce Gusto launched a consumer education campaign to promote recycling in Germany and Mexico. Moreover, Nestlé is driving positive change through school programs, like the Tunuyan Verde project in Argentina.

Additionally, the company announced that it seeks to identify and support innovative solutions through the Nestlé Creating Shared Value (CSV) Prize, which launches 30 September. In partnership with the non-profit organization Ashoka, the Nestlé CSV Prize will award CHF 250 000 in grants for system change innovations in areas such as alternative delivery systems and ground-up solutions to tackle plastic waste.

The Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences drives the development and testing of new, more environmentally friendly packaging materials. The institute has around 50 scientists who conduct cutting-edge packaging research to ensure new materials’ safety and applicability. Research outcomes include new refillable or reusable systems, simplified materials, high-performance barrier papers, and the introduction of more recycled content to Nestlé’s packaging. The institute collaborates closely with more than 180 packaging experts embedded in Nestlé’s global R & D network and research institutions, start-ups, and suppliers. Nestlé will continue to introduce alternative packaging materials and new delivery systems, invest in infrastructure, and work with consumers to solve the packaging waste challenge.


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