The Nestlé group has announced an ambition to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025. At Nestlé Waters, we have been committed to this aim for several years, and have already made great progress. Jean-François Briois, Quality Management and Materials Group Manager, discusses our commitment to recycling.
WHAT IS NESTLÉ WATERS’ POSITION ON THE RECYCLABILITY OF PACKAGING, IN VIEW OF THE GROUP’S NEW COMMITMENT?
Jean-François Briois: We have been firmly committed to making our plastic bottles 100% recyclable for several years. For sure, I’m very conservative if I say that we’re above 90%, we are currently up-dating our data. Of course, local plastics recycling streams need to be improved in some parts of the world, and we are helping to increase collection rates in some of our markets. Whenever our bottles are collected, they can be recycled and recovered.
HOW MUCH RECYCLED MATERIAL IS INCORPORATED IN THE PLASTIC USED FOR YOUR BOTTLES?
J.-F.B.: In Europe, we are on target to achieve 25% recycled content in our bottles by 2025. In many other regions we will increase the incorporation of r-PET in our bottles, as improved collection streams will guarantee a sustainable supply of high quality material. In North America we recently introduced a new 700ml Nestlé Pure Life® bottle made from 100% recycled plastic (r-PET). This is way beyond what we thought possible a few years ago. The launch was accompanied by a public awareness campaign encouraging consumers to recycle their plastic bottles.
Also, over the past ten years we have reduced the quantity of PET needed for each liter of bottled water we produce by 22%.
WHAT CRITERIA GUIDE THE CHOICE OF MATERIALS USED FOR PACKAGING?
J.-F.B.: The choice is guided by customer preference: packaging has to preserve the taste and the quality of the product and correspond to the consumer’s requirements in terms of functionality. But we also seek to ensure the highest possible level of environmental performance. Alongside making our plastic bottles recyclable, we are making them as lightweight as possible, while maintaining their functionality, and reducing the energy required to produce them.
DO INDIVIDUAL BOTTLED WATER PRODUCERS COOPERATE ON DESIGNING PLASTICS?
J.-F.B.: PET is the preferred packaging material in the beverage industry because it combines optimal protection of product’s qualities with characteristics such as lightness, resistance and transparency.
A NATURALL BOTTLE ALLIANCE
In 2017, Danone and Nestlé Waters, the world’s two largest bottled water companies, joined forces with Origin Materials, a start-up based in Sacramento, California, to form the NaturALL Bottle Alliance. Together with our partners we aim to develop and launch on a commercial scale a PET* plastic bottle made from bio-based material, i.e. 100% sustainable and renewable resources.
More about NaturALL Bottle Alliance
I represent Nestlé Waters on several European industry associations that define the rules and protocols that we all adhere to. The main body is the European PET Bottle Platform, and there are also more specialised associations of bottled water producers as well as soft drinks producers, plastics manufacturers, and so on. We are acting on a voluntary basis: there is no regulatory constraint as yet.
Our priority is to minimize the environmental footprint of all our PET bottles.
JOINING THE CLOSED LOOP FUND PARTNERS
Alongside leading businesses, government and community partners, Nestlé Waters North America invested USD 6 million (approx. CHF 6 million) in May 2017 towards recycling infrastructure and programmes across the United States. To date, the $100 million Closed Loop Fund has diverted more than 100,000 tons of recyclable content, and the 11 live projects are poised to divert 4 million tons by 2025.
More about the Closed Loop Fund