A prominent food and drink processing company is making moves to further a circular economy and invest in more sustainable options for its packaging.
Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestlé SA is investing CHF2bn (€1.8bn) to shift from using virgin plastics to using food-grade recycled plastics in its packaging, according to a Jan. 16 news release. This move will cut Nestlé's use of virgin plastics by a third.
In 2018, the company pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The push for less plastic is part of its endeavour to advance the circular economy and clean up plastic waste from oceans, lakes and rivers worldwide, the release said.
Nestlé hopes to create a market for food-grade recycled plastics, which are scarce because of difficulties in food package recycling, the release said.
The company also pledged CHF250m (€232m) to invest in start-ups that focus on food-grade recycling. Nestlé also does its own in-house research for recycling solutions.
"No plastic should end up in landfill or as litter," CEO Mark Schneider said in the release. "Making recycled plastics safe for food is an enormous challenge for our industry. That is why in addition to minimising plastics use and collecting waste, we want to close the loop and make more plastics infinitely recyclable. We are taking bold steps to create a wider market for food-grade recycled plastics and boost innovation in the packaging industry."
While Greenpeace found the announcement from Nestlé encouraging, Matthias Wüthrich, a campaigner with the organisation in its release, called the turn to recycled materials was a false solution and urged the company to prioritise reuse and eliminating single-use plastics altogether.
"If Nestlé wants to stop polluting the world, it needs to end its reliance on plastic," he said in a statement.
Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, praised Nestlé's commitment to reduction and its investment in a circular economy.
"By eliminating the plastics we don't need, innovating in areas like reuse models and new materials and circulating the plastics we do need — also in more challenging food grade applications — we can create an economy where plastic never becomes waste," he said in the release.
Nestlé also hopes to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.