Nestlé Waters embraces Nestlé’s vision that none of our packaging should end up in landfill or as litter and is committed to addressing the growing global plastic packaging issue.
20% of the water we sell is already sold globally in returnable and refillable packaging. PET is a high value plastic that has the potential to achieve a circular economy model notably by recycling bottles into new bottles, but it is not recycled enough today. We are taking a number of actions to unlock this potential and minimize our environmental footprint.
Tackling plastic pollution is an urgent priority for us. We take this responsibility extremely seriously. We are accelerating our actions to tackle the plastic waste problem and make a significant difference everywhere we operate. That is why we are working with governments, NGOs, suppliers, waste managers, retailers as well as other companies to take meaningful actions.
In January 2019, Nestlé set out our broader vision for a waste-free future, and announced a series of concrete actions. We know this is not enough. We’re determined to look at every option available to solve this complex challenge, and embrace multiple solutions that can have an impact now.
Discover here how Nestlé tackles plastic packaging waste
Pioneering alternative materials
Nestlé Waters and its experts proactively explore opportunities for alternatives to virgin PET, notably recycled PET and bio-based PET. For example, thanks to the high recycling rate of California residents, and with help from its strategic partner CarbonLITE, our Arrowhead brand in the United States now ensures that all its bottles made in California incorporate 50% post-consumer recycled plastic content. Most recently, our Nestlé Pure Life brand introduced a 700-mL bottle made from 100% recycled plastic on retail store shelves in North America.
We also support bio-based PET, viewing it as an opportunity to move from petroleum-based PET to PET sourced from fully renewable sources. Nestlé Waters’ brands such as Levissima in Italy are already using a percentage of bio-based PET in their bottles. We continue to engage with other stakeholders to understand and optimize the supply and environmental performance of these materials.
Focusing on the end-of-life of PET bottles
We take an active role in the development of well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling schemes in the countries where we operate. To tackle the global issues of plastic packaging waste, industry players, local and national governments, civil society and consumers all have a vital role to play.
The work we do depends upon how waste is managed in a particular location, but could include the development of deposit return schemes (DRS) or extended producer responsibility (EPR) approaches. We will use our experience and technical expertise to add value and take a leadership role to drive industry change where we can.
Beyond delivering on Nestlé’s 2025 commitment, our longer-term ambition is to stop plastic leakage into the environment across our operations. Here the main challenge lies in collecting and sorting waste, particularly in countries without formal waste management systems.
Plastics collection, sorting and recycling schemes
PET is 100% recyclable and is the most recycled plastic material. PET bottles are a resource, not waste. However, to extract the value of each bottle they must be collected, recycled, and reused in secondary applications, such as manufacturing new bottles, or for textile.
In France, reverse vending machines are currently being tested as a means to complement existing waste management systems. And RECO, an innovative plastic bottle recycling program, uses special bottle bins positioned on retailer parking lots. Each time a customer inserts a bottle in the bin, they receive a 2-centime discount coupon!
We are developing collaborative projects that could improve plastics collection, and will share our findings to assess whether they can be scaled-up or replicated. For example, in the USA we have invested USD $6 million in the Closed Loop Fund (which pools money from business, government and community partners), to develop recycling infrastructure programs in US cities.
Consumers also have vital role to play. We’ve helped raise awareness through brand platforms and corporate education programs, such as R-Generation in Italy, Argentina, United Kingdom and Thailand. In North America, we’ve introduced clear and consistent How2Recycle instructions to the labels of half-liter bottles for all our major US brands. We will continue to use the strength of our brands to encourage consumers to recycle.
In the rest of the world and mainly in developing countries, waste management is often handled by the informal sector. Here, we are setting up voluntary collaborative and inclusive local systems to improve collection and recycling efficiency. For example, in Ethiopia, we have been working with the local government and NGOs to establish a PET collection centre in Sululta.