VITTEL, from the Vosges to Amazonia…

All press releasesMar 31, 2010

Download the press release  

VITTEL press kit – March 2010

VITTEL, from the Vosges to Amazonia…
from local approach to global commitment

Further to a company policy that has existed for almost 20 years, VITTEL is strengthening its work today by getting involved in a large voluntary reforestation programme in Amazonia through a partnership with Pur Projet.

This new initiative includes the planting in 2010 of 350.000 trees that will result in the sequestration of about 115,000 tons of CO2 (1) over their lifetime.

1- VITTEL is launching in 2010 a large reforestation programme

a - Project Genesis: the choice of a strong and coherent commitment to the brand

VITTEL, an emblematic brand from Nestlé Waters group, has long been aware of the impact of its activity on the environment. For almost 20 years, the brand has been committed to reducing its CO2 footprint. VITTEL’s approach is global, from the protection of its source, based on local sustainable development, to the reduction of its CO2 footprint, particularly through reducing packaging weight and a retail strategy that favours clean transport such as rail and rail-road transport.

Today, as an extension to its work towards protecting the environment, Vittel has decided to take part in a large reforestation programme, perfectly coherent with the brand’s commitment. Deforestation alone generates over 17% of the world’s green house gas emissions, more than world transport (13%) (2).

Through this ambitious programme, VITTEL aims at being a stakeholder in two major challenges for the planet’s future: preserving a rare resource, water, and improving air quality. 
 

b- With « Pur Projet », Vittel participates in the fight against deforestation and global warming

The Amazonian forest is one of the world’s largest forests. Currently, 1 fifth of its surface, i.e. an area the size of France- has already been destroyed and at this pace, the forest will have disappeared by 2040.

Through its involvement in Pur Projet, Vittel pledges to plant 350 000 trees in Bolivia and Peru in the world’s largest fresh water reserve, with over 1000 streams and the biggest flow-rate in the world.

Peruvian and Bolivian Amazonia, with its wet tropical climate provides the environment for trees to grow rapidly, in far more favourable conditions than in temperate environments. In addition to CO2 absorption, tropical forests help form clouds that cool down the planet. In other places, warming due to the Albedo effect stops or exceeds cooling. Planting trees in average latitudes, in particular in most of Europe, would only have marginal effects on climate.

The goal being, of course to plant trees from Peru (Mahogany, Caoba…) and Bolivia (Mucuna, Paquio…) that will perfectly fit in their natural environment. This planting will be carried out in abiding by agro forestry principles that consist in combining agricultural and pastoral crops with the forest. This agro-forest model aims at preserving the forest and its biodiversity, as well as fighting desiccation and climate change.

The planted trees will be split on three sites: Alto Huayabamba (project based in Juan Jui, in the Tarapoto region, in Peru) with 130 000 trees, Rurrenbaque (based in Cochabamba, in Bolivia) with 200 000 trees and San Martin (Tarapoto, Peru) with 20 000 trees. The producers who will be in charge of maintenance for three years will sustain these trees. Financing covers a threeyear maintenance and follow-up after their planting (for example, hand weeding with no chemicals). Agriculturist teams will regularly visit the plots and give their advice for making the reforested plots safe and support planters. Three years is the time required to consolidate planting and create forest cover that will prevent weed from growing. The growing of the trees will thus be ensured.

The Rurrenabaque project in Bolivia is CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) certified and its Climate Community Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) certification is in process. The Peruvian projects are about to be VCS (Voluntary Carbon Standard) certified. Moreover, this reforestation programme will be monitored by SGS, which is a global reference in terms of monitoring, control and certification. The first control will take place in June 2010, and a second one is scheduled by the end of planting in late 2010. As an independent agency, SGS guarantees the planting and the follow-up of trees.

To carry this ambitious corporate citizen project through, VITTEL relies upon Pur Project’s expertise. This organisation that fights global warming and that was founded by Tristan Lecomte is made up of agriculturists, technicians, silviculture experts… who carry out reforestation projects through partnerships with local producers who wish to reforest.

c- Benefits of the project

Being involved in such a large reforestation project is a way for VITTEL to bring its contribution for the sake of the planet. This initiative has several benefits for the environment in the Amazonian region, but also for the local population who will benefit from it.
Fight against global warming: trees absorb more C02 than they release and are therefore major carbon sinks. The 350 000 trees replanted will sequestrate 115 000 tons of CO2 (2)
Maintaining the water cycle, by protecting the n°1 world fresh water resource located in the region of this large-scale project: the Amazonian basin. The forest, which maintains a cooler and more humid microclimate, provides ideal conditions for rainfalls. Trees store this rainwater in their roots. It then evaporates through their leaves in the form of vapour, which then results in the formation of clouds that limit the reflection of sun rays on the ground and therefore limits ground and culture desiccation.
Saving biodiversity and ecosystems, by sustaining this fragile and endangered area, home to the largest global reserve of living species, whether animals or plants. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has taken stock of 42 endangered animal and plant species in the reforested areas. Reforestation involves over 75% local tree species, which will recreate the natural habitat of endangered animal species and wildlife corridors required for the transhumance of some animals, such as the jaguar and some birds. Besides, most of the reforested areas are located along national parks.
Limiting flood risks, by improving ground quality, deforestation being the main cause of ground erosion, uncontrolled floods, and mudslide…
Population food and financial empowerment 
    
- Agro forestry ensures combined agriculture that leads to food producing agriculture
    - Tree shades protect crops and ensure better yields
    - Last, sustainable exploitation of timber (FSC) improves local population income

2- VITTEL a 20 year commitment with AGRIVAIR

VITTEL’s commitment with Pur Projet is not an isolated action, but on the contrary the extension of a global approach that started out almost 20 years ago.

The first step in this approach took place in 1985 with the setting up of environmental protective measures aimed at preserving the original quality of VITTEL natural mineral water sources in the Vosgian hydro mineral basin. VITTEL had at the time taken into account the intensive farming threat, which used phytosanitary products that could jeopardize resources in the long term.

Nestlé Waters France Group then launched, through a partnership with the French Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), a large multidisciplinary research programme that involved historians, sociologists, economists, agriculturists or zootechnicians. The goal was to find out whether it was possible to associate local development and VITTEL sources protection. This approach resulted in 1992 in the creation of Agrivair, a consulting and support structure for farmers in the field of agronomy.

Agrivair has set up along with farmers, local authorities and all stakeholders, a successful partnership based upon local sustainable development.

The economic and farming pattern that was set up thus resulted in sustainable and environmentally friendly farming, that also guarantees high farming income, as well as the development of strong economic and human activity and the preservation of the original quality and cleanliness of the VITTEL hydro mineral deposits.

This «environmental contract » has led to « pesticide free » policy which forbids the use of phytosanitary chemical products and to the setting up of alternative methods such as: compost, crop rotation, reintroducing alfalfa instead of corn, which can help capture nitrates efficiently and provide cattle with the required proteins, or thermal weeding through a partnership with the town of Vittel, instead of chemical weeding. Agrivair supports financially and technically the operating of these changes.

There are currently almost 10 000 hectares of farmland and forests of the intake area and 11 towns which benefit from this contract that showcases environment protection and favours biodiversity. VITTEL’s protection policy partnership is seen as an example of how a private company, through a partnership with local actors, can make ecosystems sustainable for future generations.

Having met success, Agrivair is actively developing new initiatives. A project on anaerobic digestion of compost from farms is currently being studied, as well as research on public space phytoremediation (sanitation through plants with adequate characteristics).

3-VITTEL and its commitment through packaging

VITTEL carried out its carbon inventory in 2008 according to the ADEME method. It was thus able to identify the main sources of green house gas emissions in its activity.

Packaging is the main source of green house gas emissions and accounts for 60% of the brand’s green house gas emissions.

Reducing packaging impact is one of the brand’s main goals in order to reduce its effects and quickly meet the objectives set by the Grenelle de l’Environnement 2012 (French Round Table on environmental issues).

- Reducing packaging weight
VITTEL has been concerned with its packaging for a long time and is maintaining its efforts to reduce its weight.
The weight of the bottle and its cap has been reduced by 18% over the past ten years.

- Recycling incentives, consumer awareness
Currently, in France, PET bottles are 100% recyclable, but only one in two actually is recycled. This figure is much higher than the plastic average (21%, according to Eco-Emballages*), but can certainly be improved.
In 2010, VITTEL is reinforcing its informative mission in favour of recycling with explicit messages on bottle labels, and the release of commercials also dedicated to recycling. This task, achieved with Eco-Emballages* in order to raise awareness about recycling aims at increasing bottle recycling and reaching 75% of recycled household waste (Grenelle de l’Environnement 2012).

- Co-financing of a Bio plastic university chair
Since June 2009, the group has been supporting research within the bio plastic chair of the Ecole des Mines de Paris. The long term declared objective being the creation of plastics based upon material resulting from renewable natural resources (3rd generation bio plastics) managed in a responsible manner in order to find a sustainable alternative to oil. It will bring a solution to the increasing rarity of oil and to changing prices, as well as to environment protection without altering the supply of agricultural raw material to the food production chain.

Although we already know how to manufacture bio plastics, several questions remain unanswered: bio plastics extraction and preparation methods, cost, quality, material stability and sustainability, specific recycling chain… this research is fundamental in order to meet society and manufacturer needs.

* Eco-Emballage is a private company created by some industrials from mass market and accredited by the French public authorities. Its mission is to organise, to supervise and to accompany the sorting and selective collection of household packaging in France.

NB: In order to go beyond all this, our group has acquired its own measuring tool that complies with ISO 14044 standard: the Global Environment Footprint (GEF tool). This method enables us to comprehend our environmental footprint in a more global way. It does not only measure green house gases, but also water and energy consumption, eutrophication (modification and deterioration of aquatic environment) use of non-renewable power… and it helps improving our results and their reliability.

For almost 20 years, sustainable development has been at the heart of VITTEL’s activity. VITTEL’s main concern is to preserve its resource and reduce its ecological footprint. In 2010, with this reforestation project, VITTEL is developing its commitment by giving it a global scale. The project involves corporate citizenship. It is legitimate considering VITTEL’s history and perfectly fits in the Biodiversity year.

Download the press release