Nestlé USA packaging sustainability manager Walt Peterson discusses the pathway to make 100% of the company’s packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, with a focus on avoiding plastic waste.
2019 has already been a banner year for the introduction of ambitious sustainable packaging initiatives, programs and collaborations with major brands playing a prominent role. Exemplary of these is Nestlé, which in mid-January laid out its vision and plans for accelerating the global packaged food provider’s sustainable packaging goals. Some highlights include:
- Starting in February 2019, Nestlé will begin to eliminate all plastic straws from its products, using alternative materials like paper as well as innovative designs to reduce littering.
- Nestlé will also start rolling out paper packaging for Nesquik in the first quarter of 2019 and for the Yes! snack bar in the second half of 2019. Smarties will start rolling out plastic-free packaging in 2019 and Milo will introduce paper-based pouches in 2020.
- Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content of its bottles to 35% by 2025 at the global level and will reach 50% in the United States and Nestlé Waters will increase the recycled PET content for its European brands to 50% by 2025.
- Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences (shown in the picture above) is exploring new paper-based materials and biodegradable/compostable polymers that are also recyclable, among other alternatives. This could become a valuable option in places where recycling infrastructure does not yet exist and will not be available for some time.
- Nestlé initiated a collaboration with PureCycle Technologies to produce food-grade recycled polypropylene (PP) from plastic waste feedstock.
The press release is posted at the company website: Nestlé accelerates action to tackle plastic waste.
One of the company's visionaries in these initiatives, Walt Peterson, manager – packaging sustainability, Nestlé USA, responds to Packaging Digest’s questions.
Which of these initiatives holds the most promise of making an impact short term? Which over the longer term?
Peterson: Our vision is that none of our product packaging, including plastics, should end up in landfill or as litter, including in seas, oceans and waterways. To achieve this, our ambition is that 100% of our packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2025.
We have a large portfolio of our packaging that is already recyclable in the U.S. In the short term, Nestlé will continue to play an active role in the development of well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling systems. In the U.S., Nestlé is involved with the Materials Recovery For the Future (MRFF) project, whose vision is simple: flexible packaging is recycled curbside and the recovery community captures value from it. After several years of research exploring cutting edge sorting equipment for recycling facilities and end markets for material, the project is conducting a pilot to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of including flexible packaging in a single-stream curbside recycling system. Results are forthcoming in 2019.
We are also providing more information on how to recycle our products on-pack, in partnership with the How2Recycle program.
Over the long term, we are exploring novel packaging solutions through the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences. The Institute will evaluate and develop various sustainable packaging materials and closely collaborate with industry partners.
What can you say about the participation in the Loop reusable-packaging-based program?
Peterson: Nestlé is expanding its global efforts to develop new packaging solutions, minimize its impact on the environment and protect the planet for future generations. Loop fits into those efforts by taking an innovative and disruptive approach to changing how products are packaged—and delivered—and how consumers enjoy them. It’s just one way Nestlé is innovating and transforming its business with sustainability in mind while still providing consumers a premium product experience.
Companies are looking for new ways to address packaging and reduce waste--and consumers are demanding it. Loop is an example of how the industry is responding to that and we believe consumers will be very interested in trying it out for themselves.
Next: Plastic decisions, benchmarks and more