Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) announced in December that it will achieve 25 percent recycled plastic across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2021. The company plans to continue expanding its use of recycled materials in the coming years, further setting an ambition to reach 50 percent recycled plastic by 2025.
The company says it is expanding its relationship with key supplier, Plastrec (in Joliette, Quebec) and working with other suppliers to support the company's ability to nearly quadruple its use of food-grade recycled plastic, or rPET, in less than three years. This comes on the heels of Nestlé Waters' announcement in 2018 about the expansion of its partnership with CarbonLITE, as the rPET supplier builds a third U.S. facility in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.
"We want to take the ‘single' out of ‘single-use' bottles. Our bottles were never meant to be thrown in the garbage — we carefully design them to be collected, recycled, and repurposed," says Fernando Mercé, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Waters North America. "PET plastic is a valuable resource that, if recycled properly, can be used to create new bottles again and again. We're proving that it can be done by making bottles out of other bottles, not ten years from now, but today."
In its 2016 report, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that most plastic packaging is used only once, and that 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging material, worth $80-120 billion annually, is lost to the economy. This latest milestone positions Nestlé Waters to play a greater role in addressing the nation's growing recycling challenges, while unlocking the full economic and environmental benefits of treating plastic as a valuable resource, rather than as a waste product.
Accelerating the market for recycled plastic
In addition to the company's multi-year supplier agreements, Nestlé Waters continues to make indirect investments in recycling infrastructure in the U.S. through its $6 million investment in the Closed Loop Fund. In municipalities such as Waterbury, Connecticut, the investment fund is supporting enhanced recycling programs with a goal of increasing the current city recycling rate from 6 percent to 25 percent by 2020. Just recently, Closed Loop Fund announced a $1.5 million investment in rPlanet Earth, the world's first completely vertically integrated manufacturer of post-consumer recycled PET.
Nestlé Waters also supports recycling collection programs through organizations like Keep America Beautiful, including an integrated recycling education and awareness initiative for the 10,000 students affected by the Flint water crisis. The company was also the first beverage company in North America to add How2Recycle information on the labels of its major U.S. brands. These labels include a reminder for consumers to empty the bottle and replace the cap before recycling.
"Through long-term supplier contracts and our commitment to supporting initiatives to improve collection rates, we are helping to stimulate a more robust recycling market, and unlock the potential of a circular economy here in the U.S.," says Mercé.