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Nestlé: Imagining a plastic-free Earth by 2025

Nestlé S.A. is a Swiss multinational food and beverage processing conglomerate corporation. Their headquarters are in Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. It is one of the largest consumables company in the world, measured by revenues and other metrics, since 2014. It ranked number 64 on the "Fortune Global 500" in 2017. Also, they were number 33 on the 2016 edition of the "Forbes Global 2000 list of largest public companies". Their vision is that none of their packagings should end up in landfill or in oceans, or rivers. By 2025, 100% of their packaging would be recyclable or reusable and they would also reduce their use of virgin plastics by 1/3rd.

Nestlé S.A. is a Swiss multinational food and beverage processing conglomerate corporation. Their headquarters are in Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. It is one of the largest consumables company in the world, measured by revenues and other metrics, since 2014. It ranked number 64 on the “Fortune Global 500” in 2017. Also, they were number 33 on the 2016 edition of the “Forbes Global 2000 list of largest public companies”.

Their product portfolio includes baby food, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, and snacks. Twenty-nine of Nestlé’s brands have annual sales of over US$1.1 billion. These include Nespresso, Nescafé, Kit Kat, Smarties, Nesquik, Stouffer’s, Vittel, and Maggi.

Nestlé has a total of 447 factories, operates in 189 countries, and currently employs around 339,000 people. It is also one of the main shareholders of L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company.

Establishment & Expansions

Nestlé was formed in 1905 by the merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, established in 1866 by brothers George and Charles Page, and Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé, founded in 1866 by Henri Nestlé. The company grew significantly during the First World War and again following the Second World War. They expanded their offerings beyond its early condensed milk and infant formula products.

The company has also made a number of corporate acquisitions, including Crosse & Blackwell, Libby’s, and Gerber.

Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic objects and particles (e.g. plastic bottles, bags, and microbeads) in the Earth’s environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, and even to humans. Plastics that act as pollutants are categorized into micro-, meso-, or macro debris, based on size.

With plastic waste continuing to accumulate in landfills and in our oceans, endangering wildlife, tackling plastic pollution is a must. It is an urgent priority for us and a responsibility we take seriously.

Vision and Claims

Their vision is that none of their packagings should end up in landfills or in oceans, or rivers.

This is not just some ideal – they are working hard, constantly to help achieve a waste-free future.

By 2025, 100% of their packaging would be recyclable or reusable and they would also reduce their use of virgin plastics by 1/3rd.

Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach. Therefore, they aim to find and implement improved solutions for the implementation of the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

To address the issue of plastic pollution, the tangible steps they are employing, are:

1. Pioneering alternative materials

They are trying to evaluate and develop various sustainable packaging materials. They are also collaborating with industrial partners to develop new packaging materials and solutions

2. Shaping a waste-free future

Over and above delivering on their 2025 commitment, they also have a longer-term ambition to stop plastic leakage into the environment across our global operations.

3. Driving new behavior

Addressing the plastic waste challenge requires behavior change from all of us. Thus, they are committed to bringing about a lasting and impactful change.

New Initiatives

The company announced a series of new initiatives that include a USD 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. Additionally, 87 percent of Nestlé’s 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

This means 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 important step towards circularity.

Nestlé’s water business has doubled the amount of rPET used since 2019 across its still water portfolio in the U.S. to 16.5%.

Pillar 2: Shaping a waste-free future

In August 2020, Nestlé Philippines reached plastic neutrality. That means Nestlé 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 also, process soft plastics in Australia.

They are 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.

Also, they advocate for the design and implementation of affordable and effective mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility schemes. It has identified 20 countries, accounting for 50% of the company’s 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.

Also, they 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.

Nestlé is driving positive change through school programs, like the Tunuyan Verde project in Argentina.

The Algramo (Chile), MIWA (Switzerland) and Loop (France) pilots of refillable and reusable packaging solutions offer a new shopping experience.

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

The development and testing of new, more environmentally friendly packaging materials are driven by the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, the food industry’s first such enterprise. The institute has around 50 scientists who conduct cutting-edge packaging research to ensure the safety and applicability of new materials.

Research outcomes include newly 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, as well as with research institutions, start-ups, and suppliers.

Conclusion

Nestlé will continue to introduce alternative packaging materials and new delivery systems. They would also invest in infrastructure, and work with consumers to help solve the packaging waste challenge.

Read: PepsiCo-striding towards sustainability

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