More and more of us are concerned about plastic waste. We know we should be recycling more, and we want companies that use plastic in their products to do more to tackle the issue.
But we also know that, when it comes to recycling, doing the right thing is not straightforward.
In America, most (94%) people say that we produce too much plastic waste. However, 42% claim it is easier to simply throw away plastic rather than recycle it. The situation is worse in rural areas where 52% of residents say they find it hard to recycle their plastic waste.
Meanwhile, only around half of Americans (52%) feel that they know what kinds of plastic can and can’t be recycled. And that is crucial, because, those that do feel comfortable knowing how and where to recycle plastics are nearly twice as likely to do so.
These are just some of the findings from Nestlé Waters North America’s (NWNA) latest study, This is How We Planet: America’s Perspective on Water, Packaging and Health. The report, launched to coincide with America Recycles Week in November, also found that the majority of Americans (74%) expect to see more action from companies when it comes to dealing with plastic waste.
Mobilizing action on social media
The company has been listening to consumers, and 2019 was a big year for recycling initiatives by NWNA.
“Consumers are at the heart of everything we do and that means we are constantly listening to them,” says Yumiko Clevenger-Lee, NWNA’s Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “What we’re hearing is that consumers are concerned and confused about plastic bottles.”
Right now, less than 30% of plastic bottles are currently recycled in the U.S. and less than half of recyclables in people’s homes actually get recycled.
To help change that, Poland Spring teamed up with The Recycling Partnership to help inspire Americans to recycle more. The company made a $175,000 donation to the non-profit to help improve curbside access to recycling.
On social media, people could post a photo of any item on Instagram using the #NotTrash hashtag and tagging @PolandSpringWtr, along with the question, ‘Can I recycle this?’ and get the right answer.
The brand also worked with the national radio show, Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, during two weeks so that every time a listener posted a photo of themselves recycling an empty plastic bottle and tagging #NotTrash and @PolandSpringWtr, NWNA donated an extra dollar per post to The Recycling Partnership.
Designed to be recycled
Of course, it’s okay asking people to recycle more, but they have to be confident that the plastic being sent for recycling is going to end up being used again in the most responsible way.
“We’re on a mission to eliminate the ‘single’ from ‘single-use’ plastics,” says David Tulauskas, NWNA’s Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer. In fact, the company’s bottles are designed to be recycled and made into new bottles. NWNA is committed to using recycled PET plastic (rPET) in its products, and many of them hit the market across America this year.
The Nestlé Pure Life 700ml bottle was launched back in February 2018. It picked up the 2019 Design for Recycling Award as recognition of its product design centered on recycling.
Next came the 900ml Poland Spring ORIGIN bottles in April. Then in October, the Nestlé Pure Life DC Collection of bottles was launched, featuring your favourite DC Comics characters and designed with a Super Hero symbol on the side of the bottle that encourages kids to finish drinking their water.
This means NWNA now has three of the only major, nationally distributed bottled water offerings on the market made using 100% recycled plastic.
Creating a better world, together
By 2021, the company aims to use 25% recycled plastic across its entire U.S. portfolio of products – and reach 50% by 2025.
As Tulauskas says, “Americans are deeply concerned about plastic waste…and they expect companies that use plastic in their products to do more.”
NWNA’s response in 2019 shows its helping fulfill Nestlé’s commitment to turning the tide on plastic waste by doing the right thing – and encouraging all of us to do the same so that we can create a better future, together.