by NEI ESG Services Team.

Fixing the massive problem of plastic waste, one step at a time.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in our Active Ownership Report from Q2, 2022 

Objective: Facilitate a productive discussion on Nestlé’s progress toward reducing plastics.

According to the Corporate Plastic Pollution Scorecard for 2021 produced by shareholder advocacy group As You Sow, all companies have an immense amount of work ahead to reverse the effects of plastic waste and reduce ongoing pollution. Though Nestlé is progressing better than many of its peers, no company has attained a top score on the scorecard. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation notes that more needs to be done to eliminate the use of single-use packaging and to invest in solutions to scale reusable packaging solutions to foster a circular economy.

As part of As You Sow’s Plastic Solutions Investor Alliance, NEI helped organize a call with Nestlé and members of the alliance from Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Among other things, we asked Nestlé about their efforts in meeting their commitments to reduce their use of virgin plastic and to share their progress in building out a strategy for reusable packaging.

One area where Nestlé shows strength as a global player is public policy. The company is involved in 10 of 12 regional plastics pacts, including the Canada Plastics Pact. Nestlé, along with other companies and organizations, had also called for the UN Environment Assembly to develop a treaty to end plastics pollution, and efforts to negotiate that treaty are underway. They also support “extended producer responsibility,” which requires manufacturers, distributors and retailers to be accountable for the waste generated from their products and materials.

Two areas where Nestlé (and all companies) could use significant improvement are improving their reusable packaging capabilities and reducing the need for plastics packaging overall. The company explained that pilot programs are underway in some locations, but issues of scalability loom large.

Next steps: We expect to participate in ongoing collaborative engagements with Nestlé as we monitor their progress toward plastic waste reduction.

 

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