As a leading manufacturer of bottled water, NERC’s new Advisory Member Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) finds itself at the forefront of national efforts to help reduce plastic pollution and ensure the human right to water. NERC looks forward to opportunities to partner with NWNA to address these challenging issues, which will extend partnerships already established by NWNA.
Commitment to Using Recycled Plastic
Nearly three in four Americans (74%) expect to see more action from companies that use plastic to tackle the problem of plastic waste, according to a national survey conducted by NWNA.
“Part of our responsibility as a major producer of packaged goods is to not only talk about creating an end market for recycled plastic, but demonstrate our commitment by using it in our products,” said David Tulauskas, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer of Nestlé Waters North America. “With three of the only major, nationally distributed bottled water offerings on the market made using 100% recycled plastic, and the conversion of Poland Spring® Brand’s 20-ounce to 1.5-liter still water bottles to 100% rPET, we are on track to nearly quadruple our use of rPET across our domestic portfolio in less than 3 years.”
Earlier this year, parent company Nestlé S.A. committed to investing in excess of $2 billion “to lead the shift from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics and to accelerate the development of innovative sustainable packaging solutions.”
In response to Nestlé’s announcement, Andrew Morlet, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said, “We can create an economy where plastic never becomes waste. Achieving the commitments announced today will significantly contribute towards realizing this vision.”
Here in the U.S., Nestlé Waters has demonstrated its commitment to creating an end market for recycled plastic by using more rPET in its packaging. In 2019, the company announced that it will use 50% recycled content in its packaging by 2025, which includes the Poland Spring® Brand goal to be the first major bottled water brand in the U.S. to reach 100% recycled plastic across its still water portfolio by 2022.
Improvements to Recycling Infrastructure
To support improvements in recycling infrastructure, NWNA has invested $6 million in the Closed Loop Infrastructure Fund, a social impact investment fund that has recovered and returned into the supply chain more than 1,200,000 tons of recyclables through the 27 projects it has funded through 2019. In addition, through the Poland Spring® Brand’s $175,000 donation to fellow NERC Advisory Member The Recycling Partnership, the company aims to “help them improve access to recycling in communities across the country” and thereby help increase recycling rates.
For NWNA, helping to fund an improved recycling system addresses one of the critical issues facing the industry. Without these improvements, the increase in collection, processing, and re-use of all beverage containers necessary to achieve a circular economy may not be within reach.
Inspiring Consumers to Recycle More
One key factor that will help NWNA achieve its recycled plastic goal is an increase in the volume of plastic that is recycled for food and beverage contact applications. In an effort to encourage consumers to recycle more, NWNA has collaborated with organizations to help raise awareness about plastics recycling and was the first beverage company to add How2Recycle information on the labels of its major U.S. brands. In 2019, it collaborated with The Recycling Partnership to launch an Instagram recycling hotline to help Americans understand what is recyclable in their communities.
In addition to its efforts on packaging and recycling, NWNA is committed to helping the communities where it operates. The company works with local officials and community leaders on a variety of topics, including investment in community projects, and helping with waste cleanups and recycling efforts with organizations like Keep America Beautiful.
Seeking to address concerns voiced by communities about its water extraction practices, Nestlé joined the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), which defines “water stewardship” as “the use of water that is socially and culturally equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that includes both site- and catchment-based actions.” Nestlé Waters now has 10 facilities that have achieved AWS certification in the U.S.
NERC is pleased to welcome Nestlé Waters North America as a Sustaining Advisory Member, and looks forward to working with the company to help resolve some of the most critical environmental issues facing American society today.
 This is How We Planet: America’s Perspective on Water, Packaging and Health (2019)