At Nestlé, we’re very aware that the way we package your favorite foods and beverages goes a long way towards protecting the health of our planet. The food industry has a challenge ahead of us — we’ve got to make sure the way we package food keeps it fresh and safe, and we’ve got to innovate new and more sustainable ways to do so.
Earlier this year we announced that we’re investing $2 billion to lead a shift from newly created virgin plastics to recycled and reused food grade plastics, and that we were launching a $250 million sustainable packaging venture fund to invest in start-up companies doing great work in that space. As part of this venture fund, we recently announced an investment of $30 million in the Closed Loop Leadership Fund, to help upgrade recycling infrastructure in the U.S.
We hope that this effort can have an impact in our industry on a global scale, as well as in your day-to-day as you work to reduce and recycle packaging in your kitchen.
So what does it mean practically on grocery store shelves, and in your kitchen? Where can you find signs of this innovation in action? There’s a lot of work to be done, but below I’ve outlined just four of the products where a little bit of creativity and smart thinking is driving our packaging evolution.
Packaging Game Changer: Using less packaging to begin with
How it works: If you’ve bought a DiGiorno pizza recently, have you noticed a part of our packaging has been removed from some of our pizza options? We’ve removed the flat circle base from underneath the pizza in a number of flavors in our Rising Crust line. Those bases helped prevent pizzas from breaking as we made them, but we switched up our process so we could protect the quality of your pizza and reduce packaging at the same time.
Why it matters: Using less packaging in our products means relying on fewer natural resources. Where we can, we invest in ways to cut down on our packaging before it makes its way to you, so you know you’re getting the most efficient, sustainable packaging.
By the Numbers: This update saved 4.5 million pounds of corrugated paper from DiGiorno packaging.
Impact: By saving this much cardboard, it’s the equivalent of saving 49,000 trees a year.
Starbucks by Nespresso
Packaging Game Changer: Infinitely recyclable material
How it works: Nespresso has made it as easy as possible to recycle used coffee capsules across the continental U.S. — whether using pre-paid UPS recycling bags or drop-off recycling points across the country. They’ve also gone a step further — committing $1.2 million in 2019 to make curbside recycling available in New York City.
Why it matters: You want your coffee to taste great, and you probably want it to be good for the environment too. Nespresso identified aluminum as the best material to ensure you get the freshest cup every time. It’s also 100% and infinitely recyclable, and recycling it requires up to 95% less energy to recycle than to produce new metal materials. This means that when you send back your capsules, we can turn them into drink cans, bicycles, or new capsules.
By the numbers: 100% recyclable capsules get recycled through 88,000 UPS drop-off points and 500 capsule collection points across the U.S.
Impact: A circular system that helps reduce packaging entering landfill.
Packaging Game Changer: (Easy) Recyclability
How it works: Our Starbucks Creamers come in a bottle we custom-designed to make it as simple as possible to recycle. The shrink wrap labels are made using recycling-compatible inks and materials, which means every last bit of plastic in the packaging can be recycled, and the recycled plastic is easier for a recycler to sell for reuse. You can just discard the whole container in a curbside recycling bin without having to separate the package or look for where to dispose each piece.
Why it matters: We know people are confused about what materials are actually recyclable, which leads to less recycling overall. In addition to not knowing if a shrink wrap is recyclable (check for a How2Recycle icon) or if they should replace the water bottle cap before recycling (please do!), any packaging that involves an extra step to break down can create a barrier to recycling. We recognize that to make packaging more sustainable, we’ve got to keep things simple.
By the Numbers: 100% of the bottle is recyclable.
Impact: Designing a package so that it can dropped in the recycling bin is essential to help people actually take action and recycle. The more plastic that gets recycled, the more packaging we can create with recycled material.
Tidy Cats Naturally Strong
Packaging Game Changer: New life for recycled products
How it works: Ever wondered where plastic goes once you’ve recycled it? Purina’s Tidy Cats Naturally Strong uses 50% post-consumer recycled plastic for its jugs, meaning your favorite cat litter is being delivered in a more environmentally friendly way. The box it arrives in is also made from materials certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
Why it matters: Using plastics recycled by consumers like you means we reduce the amount of virgin plastic we purchase and add into the packaging eco-system.
By the numbers: This innovation has avoided the use of approximately 200,000 pounds of virgin plastic.
Impact: Step-by-step, using more recycled content gets us closer to our goal to reduce our use of virgin plastic by a third by 2025.
There’s always more we can do to make our packaging as environmentally friendly as possible, while maintaining the safety, quality, and taste of your favorite products. Our teams are working every day on the latest research, and challenging themselves to meet new recyclability and sustainability landmarks.
As we do the work, we’ll continue checking in to let you know our progress.
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