5 Unexpected Places You Can Find Sustainability at Nestlé

From food waste to coffee pod recycling, here are 5 ways my company innovates with sustainability in mind

Liz Caselli-Mechael
Feb 9, 2017 · 6 min read

To us, sustainability means being able to bring you the food you love without compromising the resources that future generations will need. When I first started at Nestlé, one thing that was incredible to me was looking at not just the farmer’s field or the packaging facility, but at the whole supply chain top-to-bottom to identify our environmental impact and see how we can do better. Here are 5 areas where Nestlé is investing in sustainability that I hadn’t thought much about before:

Fighting food waste

Big picture: In the USA, 30–40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person every month.

Why it matters to us: Aside from the missed opportunity to improve food security for those who are hungry or undernourished, food loss and waste place a tremendous burden on the environment. It’s not just valuable food that’s being wasted: all the energy, water, and labor that went into producing that food is being wasted too.

Key number: 50%

We have committed to halve our food waste globally by 2030.

Progress report: We’re partnering with SAVE FOOD, a group that works closely with the Food and Agriculture Organizations and the United Nations Environment Programme to create awareness of and help prevent food loss. Our efforts include responsible sourcing and consumer education, as well as work with the World Resources Institute to develop a global standard to measure and evaluate food loss and waste in the food supply chain.

Keeping waste out of landfills

Big picture: The EPA reports that, each year, 7.6 billion tons of solid waste are generated across different industrial facilities. In addition to other environmental challenges, landfills are a major source of methane emissions.

Why it matters to us: To do more with fewer resources and generate less waste, we are adopting more efficient technologies and processes. Zero waste to landfill means that no factory waste goes to landfill or is incinerated without energy being recovered.

Key number: 35

In 2015, 35 Nestlé factories achieved zero waste to landfill status in the U.S.

Progress report: We’re nearly halfway to our target of 100% of factories by 2020.

Offsetting the emissions from products we ship

Big picture: Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation like cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes made up 26% of 2014 greenhouse gas emissions- the second largest contributor.

Why it matters to us: We work hard to make our products accessible to you, no matter where you are. That often means shipping them, especially for specialized needs like pet food for veterinarians, which lead to carbon emissions that impact our climate. As Paul Grimwood, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé USA said, “Global weather patterns affect crop yields, water availability and infrastructure integrity. These changes impact the business we do every day as well as the work of farmers, suppliers and distributors across our vast network of partners. Nestlé intends to flourish for at least another 150 years, and we believe tackling climate change is key to a healthy planet and healthy people.”

Key number: 410,487

In the 15 months since inception, Nestlé Purina’s carbon-neutral shipping initiative offset 3,648 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from using 410,487 gallons of gasoline.

Progress report: In 2015, we achieved a major milestone in our continued partnership with UPS by offsetting the carbon emissions associated with transportation for every order of PURINA® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets and PURINA® Pro Plan® shipped by UPS to our veterinary customers and their clients. This includes small-pack orders delivered directly to clinics as well as e-commerce orders placed through PurinaForProfessionals.com. Through this carbon-neutral shipping program, UPS accurately measures the carbon emissions of each shipment, then offsets the emissions through carbon sequestration projects. We are now exploring whether we can scale this project more broadly with other online retailers.

Finding recycling opportunities in unusual places

Big picture: The EPA suggests that recycling in the U.S. reduces the same amount of greenhouse gas pollution as taking more than 38 million cars off the road.

Why it matters to us: Our Nespresso pods rely on aluminum, which is the best material available to protect the high quality and aromas of our coffees. Aluminum also has the advantage of being infinitely recyclable. Thanks to recycling, nearly 75% of all aluminum EVER produced is still in use today, and recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod.

Key number: 88,000

Nespresso offers pre-paid UPS recycling bags for coffee-lovers in 48 states to mail back used capsules to be recycled. People can bring their bag filled with Nespresso used capsules to one of the 88,000 UPS drop off locations or hand them to their UPS driver. Consumers can obtain bags for free at Nespresso Boutiques or request them by mail. Nespresso capsules can also be dropped off for recycling at 500 collection points across the country located at Nespresso Boutiques and select retail partners like Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma.

Progress report: Nespresso has partnered with AgChoice who can both separate out aluminum for recycling and take used coffee grounds are turned into nutrient-rich compost and topsoil. Beyond recycling, Nespresso also looks at how it can make a difference in the overall aluminum supply chain, playing an active role in the Aluminum Stewardship Initiative.

Keeping the benefits of packaging while lowering the environmental cost

Big picture: While packaging can offer a lot of value in reducing food waste, food packaging accounts for almost two-thirds of total packaging waste (by volume).

Why it matters to us: Packaging provides a variety of functions, from preventing food waste and maintaining shelf life to providing convenience and information for consumers. We take a holistic approach to designing our packaging, assessing environmental impacts across our entire life cycle. We aim for performance and functionality while optimizing weight and volume.

Key number: 9%

We have reduced our materials purchased for packaging in the U.S. by 9% since our 2010 baseline.

Progress report: In addition to reducing packaging materials across the board, we’ve launched innovative approaches to water bottles. Nestlé Waters North America launched its first 100% rPET bottle RESOURCE®, a natural spring water made entirely of recycled plastic, excluding the cap and label. The 100% rPET bottle is focused on closed-loop recycling. In 2015, Nestlé Waters also announced plans to significantly increase recycled content in the most popular sizes of its ARROWHEAD® bottled water in California, in partnership with Los Angeles-based CarbonLITE Industries, one of the largest producers of post-consumer rPET in the world. The move will reuse about 18 million pounds of plastic a year.

EDITED Feb 13, 2017: Information was added on drop-off locations for Nespresso recycling. For more information, check out Nespresso Expands Recycling Partnership With UPS From 20 States To The Entire Continental U.S.


Enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future in the U.S.

Liz Caselli-Mechael

Written by

Talking CSR & Creating Shared Value for @NestleUSA. MS AgEcon. Lover of farms, food, & all the steps in between.


Enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future in the U.S.