Minimizing Bottled Water Distribution Impact On Environment
Of the areas covered by our Global Environmental Footprint (GEF) tool, the main impact in this phase is domestic transport from factory to customer. To improve our performance, we focus on reducing distance to consumers, developing alternative fuel usages, maximizing payload, using alternative modes of transport and selecting carriers that take measures to reduce their environmental impact.
Our transport policy
Transport has always been a key factor in the bottled water business model, and Nestlé Waters has demonstrated its commitment to reduce its transport environmental footprint. From 2011 to 2016, the environmental footprint of our distribution phase decreased by 5% for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 4% for non-renewable energies consumed.
However, work remains to be done as we continue to explore opportunities for further reductions. The current Nestlé Waters transport policy focuses on five key areas:
- Reducing distance to consumers
- Developing alternative fuel usages
- Maximizing payload
- Using alternative modes of transport
- Selecting carriers that take measures to reduce their environmental impact
Reducing distance to consumers
The bottled water industry involves the transport of large volumes of product. For this reason, our business tends to be locally focused. In 2018 year-to-date, 94% of Nestlé Waters’ production was sold in its country of origin. To further limit transport distances, we encourage direct shipping (no intermediate storage). In 2016, 75% of our products were shipped directly from factory to customer.
However, given that our bottling operations are located in the immediate vicinity of the water sources, we have little flexibility regarding the choice of location of our factories. This is especially true for natural mineral and spring sources, which have stringent requirements and are often located far from urban centers.
The Nestlé Pure Life model
One interesting option is Nestlé Pure Life, a global, multi-source model that provides safe and affordable drinking water that can be adapted to local preferences. These purified, prepared waters give us the freedom to locate our factories closer to population centers, hence systematically reducing the distance to consumers.
Optimizing our means of transport
Developing alternative fuel usages
Nestlé Waters closely monitors the development of new transport technologies that could improve our environmental performance. For example, the use of propane-powered vehicles reduces both dependency on diesel fuel and the carbon footprint. End October 2017, our Home and Office Delivery business had converted 595 of its vehicles to propane. At the same time, at Nestlé Waters Italy, 8% of volumes transported were carried by propane-powered trucks. The transition to propane is expected to accelerate in the coming years as the technology improves and our trucks are replaced.
Maximizing payload is another avenue for reducing our environmental footprint. Nestlé Waters seeks to optimize the ratio between our loads and national authorized payload allowances. For example in Germany, our logistics team has worked on combining bottled water deliveries to customers with other Nestlé food products in order to maximize payload.
We also believe that increasing regulatory payload limits would mean fewer trucks on the road, which is another way to cut down on GHG emissions and energy consumption.
Using alternative modes of transport
Lastly, whenever appropriate, Nestlé Waters diverts tonnage off roads by using alternative modes of transport, such as rail, and sea – one of the lowest carbon-emitting modes of transport - for our international brands Perrier and S. Pellegrino. As an illustration, our products were originally transported the 1,000 km from northern Italy to Sicily by diesel truck and train. By switching to a more energy efficient combination of liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks and boat, the environmental impact has been reduced.
Influencing carriers to reduce their environmental impact
Nestlé Waters includes environmental criteria in their carrier selection process. As a result, we favor partners and suppliers that operate recent trucks such as the Euro 5 and 6. In France, Italy, Spain and the US, we urge our carriers to use fuel alternatives such as propane. In Poland, we have been working closely with key carriers to reduce their C02 emissions.