At Nestlé Waters, our priority is to minimize the environmental footprint of all our PET bottles. Our areas of focus are eco-design, which includes optimization of bottle weight and size, increased use of sustainable resources, especially r-PET and bio-PET, and continuing research and innovation to develop new technologies. We are working to improve the entire bottle lifecycle, from raw materials to end-of-life through recycling.
Optimizing bottle weight and size
To improve environmental performance, our packaging R&D team systematically applies recyclable-by-design principles and conducts life-cycle analyses. As a result, in the last ten years, we reduced the quantity of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) needed for each liter of bottled water we produce by 22%.
Focusing on sustainable resources
When PET is recycled, it is transformed into what is called recycled PET, or r-PET, which has a smaller environmental footprint than the original PET. Nestlé Waters is convinced that the use of recycled PET can improve the environmental performance of our products. Indeed, bottled water requires r-PET that undergoes a thorough sorting and cleaning process in order to meet food contact standards. The ability to guarantee a sustainable supply of this high-quality r-PET varies greatly depending on local contexts. Nestlé Waters therefore considers that when it comes to the use of r-PET in our plastic bottles, a case-by-case approach is required. We believe we can best help to achieve a sustainable supply of high-quality r-PET that meets the growing demand for this material by collaborating to boost PET bottle collection and hence the local supply of food-grade r-PET.
For example, Nestlé Waters North America began using r-PET in 2010. Today, with the help of our strategic partner CarbonLITE, all Arrowhead bottles produced in California are made with 50% r-PET. In February 2018, Nestlé Waters, through its brand Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water, announced the introduction of a 700-ml bottle made from 100% r-PET. “This new bottle, made from 100% recycled plastic for our namesake brand is the latest way we’re satisfying consumer demand for healthy hydration on-the-go and inspiring consumers to recycle” said Antonio Sciuto, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Nestlé Waters North America.
In Europe, we are currently on target to achieve 25% recycled content in our bottles by 2025. In other regions we will increase the incorporation of r-PET in our bottles as improved collection streams guarantee a sustainable supply of high quality material.
Investing in bio-PET
In 2017, we co-founded the NaturALL Bottle Alliance to scale-up the next generation of bio-sourced PET. The goal is to develop and launch a PET plastic bottle made from bio-based material, i.e. a 100% sustainable and renewable resource. The project uses biomass feedstocks, such as previously used cardboard and sawdust, so it does not divert resources or land from food production for human or animal consumption.
“It’s incredible to think that, in the near future, the industry will be able to use a renewably sourced packaging material, which does not compete with food production and contributes to a better planet,” said Massimo Casella, Head of R&D for Nestlé Waters.
The technology represents a scientific breakthrough for the sector, and the Alliance aims to make it available to the entire food and beverage industry. In the years to come, Nestlé Waters will also continue to support the development and scale-up of emerging technologies.
The impact of packaging
Packaging is the first contributor to our product environmental footprint. In 2016, for an average Nestlé Waters product, it accounted for about 40% of our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and roughly half of our non-renewable energy consumption.