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Nestlé pledges to spend billions on recycled packaging

The food and beverage giant, which packages most of its food and bottles with plastic, wants to cut its use of virgin plastics by one-third by 2025.


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January 17, 2020 by Canadian Plastics

Plastic waste gathered on a beach. Photo Credit: Nestle

Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company, has pledged to spend up to US$2 billion to increase the use of recycled plastics in its food packaging.

The food and beverage giant, which packages most of its food and bottles with plastic, said in a Jan. 16 statement that it wanted to cut its use of virgin plastics by one-third by 2025, which builds on earlier commitments to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by then.

In the statement, Nestlé said three-quarters of the money would cover the extra cost of food-grade recycled plastics, while about US$250 million would be allocated to a venture capital fund to invest in sustainable packaging start-ups and advanced recycling technologies. “Making recycled plastics safe for food is an enormous challenge for our industry,” said chief executive Mark Schneider. “That is why in addition to minimising plastics use and collecting waste, we want to close the loop and make more plastics infinitely recyclable.”

“Building on our commitment to making 100 per cent of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, we aim to reduce our use of virgin plastics by one-third in the same timeframe,” the statement continued. “We will do so by leading the shift from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics, while accelerating the development of innovative packaging solutions.”

Nestlé said it is “determined to look at every option to solve complex packaging challenges and embrace multiple solutions that can have an impact now.” Solutions identified by the company include introducing new delivery systems and innovative business models — like reusable or refill systems — to reduce its use of single-use plastics, and using recyclable paper-based materials and compostable packaging where plastics recycling is not a viable option.

Nestlé’s total plastics packaging usage in 2018 was 1.7 million metric tons, according to the company’s website.

Sander Defruyt, who heads the Ellen MacArthur environmental charity, welcomed Nestlé’s moves. “The financial investment they are making is major, and the virgin plastic reduction they are targeting of roughly 500,000 tonnes a year will keep quite a few barrels of oils in the ground,” he said. “We hope more companies follow.”