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What is Nestlé doing to tackle packaging waste?

Packaging & Recycling – ASK NESTLÉ

Our vision is that none of our packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill, in oceans, lakes and rivers. We are working hard to deliver on this and help achieve a waste-free future.

Our commitment is that 100% of our packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2025. To date, globally 85.4% of our total packaging is already recyclable or reusable, but we know we have more work to do. As the world's largest food and beverage company, our actions matter, and we are committed to putting our size and scale to work. 
 
We are determined to reduce our use of single-use plastics, by introducing reusable packaging, new delivery systems and innovative business models everywhere we operate and sell our products. Building on our commitment, we will reduce the use of virgin plastics by one third by 2025.

What is Nestlé doing to tackle plastic packaging waste?

Plastic packaging keeps our food and drink safe and fresh, while reducing food loss and waste. We need to carefully consider alternatives before making changes.

The Institute of Packaging Science was established by Nestlé in 2019 and is the only research institute of its kind in the food industry. It is dedicated to developing the next generation of sustainable packaging, such as refillable or reusable packaging, to using simplified or recycled packaging materials.

We have a five-pillar packaging strategy that the Institute of Packaging Science and many other Nestlé packaging experts, both here in Australia and around the world, are working towards.

  1. Reducing our use of plastic packaging material, including less virgin plastic.

    We can do this by reducing the amount of plastic packaging we use, replacing plastic with other materials, or by using recycled plastic.

    For example, in June 2022 KitKat became Australia’s first food wrapped in soft plastic made with recycled content. More than 40 million 45g KitKat bars will be packed in the 30% recycled content wrapper in the first year. 

    As well, Purina Australia changed its pet accessories and health hygiene packaging to remove more than 16 tonnes of non-recyclable or unnecessary plastic each year through small changes, such as switching virgin-nylon cable ties to paper ties.
     

  2. Scaling reusable and refillable systems to reduce the need for disposable packaging.

    Many solutions are already being used by Nestlé in other countries, including bulk delivery systems for pet food and refill stations for coffee. We’re exploring these innovative solutions for Australia.
     
  3. Pioneering alternative packaging materials to facilitate recycling.

    We pioneered the development of safe and convenient paper-based packaging solutions. For example, Smarties is entirely packed in recyclable paper packaging. As the first global confectionery brand to do this, this has removed approximately 250 million plastic packs globally every year.
     
  4. Supporting infrastructure that helps to make recycling easier

    We are actively working towards a better future for soft plastics. In Australia, we  initially focused on how collection of soft plastics could be improved with a kerbside recycling trial, then created a prototype KitKat wrapper made from Australian waste soft plastic to demonstrate the potential for a better future for soft plastics in Australia.
     
  5. Driving new behaviours across all levels: consumers, retail partners and suppliers.

    The Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) features on 94% of our local products, providing simple and easy to understand on-pack recycling information by showing which bin to recycle in.  

Is Nestlé packaging recyclable?

A number of factors determine if packaging is recyclable - not just the material it’s made of, but also its colour, weight and size. We have committed to making 100% of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025 and are working on many changes across our entire packaging range to achieve this.

Always refer to the ARL on the back of the pack to see how you should recycle your packaging. All of our locally produced products feature the ARL which provides simple and easy to understand on-pack recycling information, by showing which bin to recycle in.  

How are you helping consumers to recycle correctly?

Addressing the plastic waste challenge requires behaviour change from all of us, including Nestlé, consumers, retail partners and suppliers. We are committed to leading lasting and impactful change. 

We are working to ensure our consumers know how to dispose of waste correctly. All our locally produced products feature the ARL, which provides simple and easy to understand on-pack recycling information, by showing which bin to recycle in. 

We also work with external partners including governments, community groups and NGOs to support consumer education programs.

What is the Australasian Recycling Label?

The ARL offers clear instructions on pack of what to do with every bit of packaging – whether it goes in the recycling bin, rubbish bin, or has special instructions that should be followed, such as returning it to store for recycling.

Australiasian Recycling Label

 

Visit the Australasian Recycling Label for more information.

What is REDcycle?

We are a partner of the REDcycle program, a soft plastics recycling program which collects soft plastics via in-store collection bins for recycling.

Look for the Australasian Recycling Label and the REDcycle logo on the back of pack to know if your soft plastics can be recycled, and then drop them off in-store on your next visit.

Visit REDcycle for more information.

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What is Nestlé’s partnership with iQRenew?

Nestlé partnered with iQRenew on an Australian trial of kerbside soft plastic collection, aiming to develop a scalable model to collect, sort and process soft plastic.

Why does Nestlé use plastic at all?

Our packaging plays a key role in protecting food, preventing food waste and ensuring the quality and safety of our products, so we need to carefully consider alternatives before making changes. 

There has been considerable progress in ensuring the use of only a minimum adequate amount of plastic packaging to pack products safely. 

For example, the size of Nestlé Bakers’ Choice packaging was reduced while still holding the exact same amount of delicious made-for-baking chocolate. In addition, Nestlé Professional released a packaging redesign of the Maggi Professional range of 7-8kg gravies and boosters removing 30 tonnes of virgin plastic from the marketplace per year. 

Does Nestlé use recycled content in its packaging?

We use recycled content for products packaged in glass, cardboard and metal – for example, our Nescafé glass coffee jars and Milo tins use recycled content.

We are committed to reducing our use of virgin plastic by one-third by 2025. Currently, soft plastic with recycled content that’s suitable for food packaging isn’t widely available anywhere in the world – we’ve been searching high and low to find as much of this material as we can from our suppliers. It is cheaper today to produce virgin plastic than it is to acquire food-grade recycled plastic. We’re working to change this.

We’re investing CHF 2 billion globally to stimulate the market and lead the shift from virgin plastics to food grade recycled plastics. We’ve committed to sourcing up to 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics and allocating more than CHF 1.5 billion (USD 1.56 billion) to pay a premium for the recycled materials between now and 2025 – in the hope of creating a circular economy for food grade soft plastic.

In the meantime, we’ve made progress and KitKat has become Australia’s first chocolate bar with a wrapper using recycled content. More than 40 million 45g KitKat bars will be packed in the 30% recycled content wrapper in the next year, cutting virgin plastic use by around 250,000m2.

Nestlé has announced plans to "create a market for food-grade recycled plastics" – what does this mean?

We are aiming to reduce our use of virgin plastics by a third by 2025, in part by driving a market for food grade recycled plastic packaging. 

Currently, food grade soft plastic with recycled content isn’t widely available anywhere in the world – we’ve been searching high and low to find as much of this material as we can from our suppliers. It is cheaper today to produce virgin plastic than it is to acquire food-grade recycled plastic. We’re working to change this.  

We’re investing CHF 2 billion globally to stimulate the market and lead the shift from virgin plastics to food grade recycled plastics. We’ve committed to sourcing up to 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics and allocating more than CHF 1.5 billion (USD 1.56 billion) to pay a premium for the recycled materials between now and 2025 – in the hope of creating a circular economy for food grade soft plastic.

How are you phasing-out non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle plastics?

We have identified a 'Negative List' of difficult-to-recycle packaging types and materials which we will not use in new product packaging and will phase out of existing packaging. This includes PVC and polystyrene, pigments containing carbon black and plastic straws.

What is Nestlé doing about plastic water bottles?

We are aiming to use 100% recycled PET in all our plastic water bottles by 2025.

PET used in water bottles provides lightness, resistance and transparency, and is 100% recyclable. However, half of all bottles are not recycled – a significant amount ends up in landfill or as marine debris.

We are committed to finding ways to improve both plastics collection and recycling rates to ensure that we can maximise the full environmental and economic benefits of PET bottles as a reusable resource.