Zero Waste-to-Landfill: It’s not just for manufacturing anymore

Spend 2 minutes with Nestlé’s Chief Supply Chain Officer on the latest news on one-man’s-trash

When we talk about waste going to landfill it’s usually about one of two sources: manufacturing or the dinner table. But what about all the connector points that a product hits before it gets to you? Here at Nestlé we are taking a whole supply chain approach, and I’m happy to share that now your Stouffer’s Lasagna (or your DiGiorno pizza, or your Edy’s ice cream…) are coming to you from distribution centers that are landfill-free.

Going landfill-free is no small task. At a distribution center there is often food waste (if a product has been damaged); packing materials like plastic, cardboard, or glass; wood from broken pallets; steel from cans or damaged racking; and paper waste from offices. While there is no universally accepted definition of “landfill free,” for us it means that all the waste generated from our normal operations is reused, recycled, or converted to energy. We use different tactics like composting, recycling, energy production, and providing safe products for animal feed. So now the bulk of the packing materials, food waste, and other materials is reused/recycled, and energy recovery is used as option of last resort.

21 distribution centers and 47 factories are now zero waste to landfill, helping to make our supply chains more sustainable from end to end

One major challenge in making our distribution centers landfill-free? Transportation. We don’t want to end up inefficiently transporting waste long distances for recycling, resulting in more emissions. To mitigate that risk and make sure our use of transportation is efficient, our teams use transfer stations to reduce the footprint of long haul transport. We also use waste compactors with a small footprint to highly compress waste into stackable cubes, reducing the number of trucks required to transport waste. This way, we can accumulate full trailer loads and reduce the carbon footprint compared to sending more frequent trucks.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, as landfill waste decomposes it produces a number of pollutants including air pollution, potential soil/water pollution, carbon dioxide, and methane. By going landfill-free our distribution centers can help reduce methane-producing gasses, reduce our carbon footprint, and extend the product lifecycle. With this latest move, we’re keeping over 5 million pounds of waste out of landfills every year.

And we’re not done yet. Nestlé’s global ambition is to strive for zero negative environmental impact in our operations by 2030. Stay tuned- I’m looking forward to sharing more progress.

Learn more about Nestlé’s work for a healthy planet.