Shoppers in Lebanon are being encouraged to recycle their used PET plastic bottles and empty cans at Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) in supermarkets, in return for a two litre Nestlé Pure Life mineral water bottle – with the aim of cutting the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfill or in the ocean.
Each time people insert an empty PET bottle or aluminium can into an RVM, they receive a coupon. Once they collect 60 coupons, they can redeem them at supermarkets for a full sized bottle of mineral water.
This is part of a first-of-its-kind PET recycling initiative, ‘Protect Lebanon – Recycle Today’, which we launched together with waste management provider Averda, and Lebanese supermarket chain Spinneys in 2011 to help boost recycling in the country. In 2015, Lebanon experienced a waste crisis after a huge landfill site was closed down without a replacement being implemented in time, leading to dumping and burning waste on the streets nationwide.
“We launched this programme to help consumers change their mindsets and teach them that empty bottled water plastic is a resource, not a waste, and shouldn’t be dumped in wastelands,” explained Rania Choueifati, Marketing Manager for Nestlé Waters Lebanon.
Active recycling habits
Two years later recycling became more popular in Lebanon, and today people are much more active in their recycling habits, thanks to initiatives such as the RVMs.
In 2018 alone, more than 41 tonnes of used PET plastic bottles and cans were collected. This year, we have set our sights on the ambitious aim of collecting 640 tonnes of plastic – 15% of the plastic we produce.
Today, 27 RVMs are currently in use in supermarkets and universities across the country, with the collected plastic being taken and processed by Arc En Ciel, a Lebanese NGO that supports people with special needs.
“The plastic we are collecting is used and recycled by Arc En Ciel, which is a great example of how recycling can sustain a new economic strategy, help conserve resources and reduce environmental pollution,” Ms Choueifati added.
Cutting down on plastic waste builds on our use of lighter plastic mineral water bottles and minimising waste during our bottling process in Lebanon.
Driving recycling commitment
We aim to go even further to improve the level and efficiency of our recycling processes by launching a new mobile truck equipped with a plastic and aluminium crusher to boost volume reduction capacity by eight times, and introducing a number of recycling cages to compress bottles and cans in recycling bins.
As part of the Recycle Beirut Project, we will also collect PET from households, supermarkets and petrol stations, and support a glass recovery project in restaurants and pubs in Beirut to transform plastic and glass into recycled materials used in tiles, benches and gaming products.
Our latest efforts in Lebanon to raise awareness and find solutions to the plastic waste problem are part of our global commitment towards a waste-free future. By 2025, Nestlé aims to make 100% of its packaging recyclable and re-usable, seeking to make sure that none of it ends up in landfill or as litter, minimising the impact of packaging on the environment.