Nestle's source optimization program saved 39,000 tonnes of packaging material by weight in 2011, worth 65M Swiss francs; company increasingly using recycled materials such as rPET, but challenged by lack of rPET availability

Graziela Medina Shepnick

Graziela Medina Shepnick

May 29, 2012 – Nestlé

VEVEY, Switzerland , May 29, 2012 () – Industry Intelligence's Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Nestlé SA's 2011 Creating Shared Value report, published on May 29, 2012.

Nestlé depends on natural resources – not least, freshwater and biodiversity – and we are determined to play our part in tackling environmental challenges facing our business and our planet. We aim to continuously improve our environmental performance and produce tastier, nutritious food and beverages that are better for the environment.

Environmental stewardship

As the leading Nutrition, Health and Wellness company, we strive to delight consumers everywhere with tasty, nutritious and healthy food and beverages. We understand that this sense of well-being also requires our products to be made in a responsible way that preserves the environment for future generations. Our environmental stewardship is guided by three principles:

• our responsibility towards society, present and future;
• our desire to delight consumers;
• our dependence on a clean environment that can provide the high-quality resources we need to make high-quality food and beverages.

A product life cycle approach from farm to consumers We apply a product life cycle approach, involving our partners from farmer to consumer, to improve the environmental impact of our products and activities. Our aims, at all stages of the cycle, are to use natural resources efficiently, in particular water, to promote the use of sustainably managed renewable resources and to target zero waste. We have conducted Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) for all our product categories.

The role of eco‐design

We use the Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool for the eco-design of our packaging and GEF (Global Environmental Footprint) Tool for bottled water, which is ISO 14064-1 and ISO 14040/44 certified. We have launched the development of an eco-design tool covering both product ingredients and packaging, partnering with recognised scientists and experts in the field to assess and optimise the environmental impact of all stages of the product life cycle.

Our environmental performance

As part of our Nestlé Environmental Management System we continue to implement projects to reduce our use of water, non-renewable energy and other natural resources, to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, to eliminate waste and to improve the environmental performance of our products, including their packaging.

In addition to our long-standing focus on water and energy efficiency, we have defined for the first time specific objectives to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions and waste, at the same time as demand for our products continues to rise.

Approximately 12% of the energy we use in our factories is from renewable sources. An increasing number of factories achieved zero waste to landfill and in general, wherever it is not possible to further reduce waste, we reuse, recycle or recover energy. In 20 out of 32 Nescafé factories, for example, coffee grounds from manufacturing processes are used as a source of renewable energy.

We continue to optimise the weight and volume of our packaging. In 2011, our source optimisation programme saved 39 000 tonnes of packaging material by weight , worth CHF 65 million. Our packaging uses materials from sustainably managed renewable resources – for example, the Ninho cap in Brazil, the Vittel bottle in France, and Purina ONE beyOnd bags.

At the end of 2011, 413 out of 461 Nestlé factories are certified to ISO 14001 , the internationally recognised standard for environmental management, and we have extended the environmental certification programme to include our distribution facilities and R&D centres.

We also work with our suppliers to promote and help implement more sustainable practices in our supply chains.

Use of recycled materials

We increasingly use recycled materials, for example recycled PET in Herta Le Bon Paris Sel Réduit ham trays, Levissima bottles in Italy, Resource bottles in the United States and Montclair in Canada. Recycled PET saves both fossil resources, energy and greenhouse gas emissions. However, demand exceeds availability; globally, only one-third of PET bottles are recycled due to the challenges facing producers, bottlers, consumers and public authorities.

We also continue to support initiatives to recycle used packaging. For instance, Nestlé Waters China combined an online recycling campaign with in-store promotions and in the UK, Buxton’s Recycle-on-the-Go programme has provided 41 local recycling points.

Addressing key challenges:

Helping consumers to understand product environmental impacts

We continuously enhance the environmental information we provide to consumers about our products, based on scientific evidence. This increased transparency helps consumers when deciding what to purchase, and we also provide this information to help them improve their environmental impact when preparing and using our products, including minimising energy and water; and ensuring proper disposal, recovery and recycling of used packaging. For example, we launched the Nescafé LCA communication tool in France and a free mobile phone application to help consumers in Singapore to do so. We also participate in voluntary initiatives in Europe and Thailand to provide consumers with environmental information about our products.

Some recent external recognition

• 27th World Environment Center Gold Medal award for our commitment to environmental sustainability.
• Inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index; highest score in the environment section of the 2011 SAM-DJSI Indexes among food producers.
• Inclusion in the Global 500 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index for our proactive approach to climate change; highest score among food producers.
• 2011 UN Development Programme Award “Recognition for Best Practices in Application of Solar Water Heating” in Mexico.

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