With over 260 million tons of plastic waste being produced worldwide each year, the food industry is trying to do their part in reducing their contributions to this environmental issue. Companies such as McDonald’s, Kraft Heinz and Blue Apron have already announced sustainability initiatives but Nestlé is taking their sustainability promise to a higher level by joining forces with other governments and businesses in signing The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment at the Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
The Global Commitment is an initiative by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the UN Government. The organization’s mission is to create a circular economy for plastics, which includes initiatives to make plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable. At the Our Ocean Conference, 250 organizations including the world’s most well-known retailers, packaging producers, brands, recyclers, governments and NGOs signed the Global Commitment on October 29.
“This Global Commitment is a step-change we urgently need in order to move from a linear to a circular economy. We want to act and lead by example. We will do our part to ensure that none of our packaging, including plastics, ends up in the natural environment,” said Nestlé’s CEO Mark Schneider.
The Global Commitment aims to start a “new normal” for plastic packaging and will work to implement sustainability targets throughout the next few years. Targets will be reviewed every 18 months and will become more ambitious over the upcoming years. Organizations that have signed the commitment will have to publish their progress annually to help drive momentum and ensure transparency.
Nestlé has already publicly announced new sustainability initiatives such as their plan to make 100 percent of their packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The company announced this plan in April and plan which incorporates three main steps: the elimination of non-recyclable plastics, the incorporation of plastics that have better recycling rates and the elimination of complex combinations of plastic materials.
This announcement came after the company made sustainability partnership with Danone and Origin Materials in 2017. The NaturALL Bottle Alliance focuses on developing and launching 100 percent bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for the food and beverage industry. Since most PET plastic bottles that are currently available contain just 30 percent bio-based materials, these 100 percent bio-based bottles could significantly improve the current plastic pollution issue.
More recently, Nestlé partnered with Danone North America, Mars Inc and Unilever US to create the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance last summer. According to this alliance, all four companies will focus to improve five key areas in the food industry: consumer transparency, environment, food safety, nutrition and people and communities.
Considering Nestlé’s involvement in a variety of sustainability initiatives, the company is truly leading by example. However, these initiatives are also set to attract more consumers because sustainability is a top priority for modern consumers who are aware of the damaging effects of plastic pollution. Nevertheless, environmental issues affect both consumers and businesses as climate change has been found to pose a serious threat to food supplies across the globe. The only way to ensure a safe and bountiful food supply in the future is by taking percussions as soon as possible.
“The New Plastics Economy Global Commitment draws a line in the sand, with businesses, governments and others around the world uniting behind a clear vision for what we need to create a circular economy for plastic. This is just one step on what will be a challenging journey, but one which can lead to huge benefits for society, the economy and the environment. I encourage all businesses and governments to go further and embark on a race to the top in the creation of a circular economy for plastic. One in which this material never becomes waste or pollution,” said Dame Ellen MacArthur, Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.