Nestlé to take ‘bold steps to create a wider market for food-grade recycled plastics’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé to open up the market for food-grade recycled plastics. Photo: Nestlé
Nestlé to open up the market for food-grade recycled plastics. Photo: Nestlé

Related tags Nestlé Packaging Pet Plastics industry

Nestlé will invest up to CHF 2bn to create a wider market for food-grade recycled plastics and will reduce its use of virgin plastics by one third as part of efforts to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

To create a market, Nestlé says it is sourcing up to 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics and allocating more than CHF 1.5bn to pay a premium for these materials from now until 2025. 

Institute of Packaging Sciences

As well as its in-house research at  Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences the company will launch a CHF 250m sustainable packaging venture fund to invest in start-up companies that focus on these areas including new materials, refill systems and recycling. 

"No plastic should end up in landfill or as litter. Making recycled plastics safe for food is an enormous challenge for our industry. That is why in addition to minimizing plastics use and collecting waste, we want to close the loop and make more plastics infinitely recyclable​,” said Mark Schneider, CEO, Nestlé.

We are taking bold steps to create a wider market for food-grade recycled plastics and boost innovation in the packaging industry. We welcome others to join us on this journey​."

He added, Nestlé does not currently have a breakdown or timeframe of how the project will progress but it will sign long-term supply agreements to secure the supply of food-grade recycled plastics from its suppliers. 

How we get there will differ from market to market and will depend if there is capacity in existing recycling plants to process and transform the input materials​,” said Schneider.  

As we see it, the greater the demand from our industry to buy recycled PE and PP, the greater the focus placed on building capacity to meet that demand. Nestlé’s investment aims to boost a market for food-grade recycled PP and PE. Of course we welcome others to join us on this journey.​”  

Circular economy

He added, aside from PET, most plastics are difficult to recycle for food packaging, leading to a limited supply of food-grade recycled plastics. There is currently only a limited supply for food-grade recycled plastics and it will boost this market with its investment.  

We will work with companies around the world, which share our commitment to creating a market for high-quality food-grade recycled plastics. This initiative aims to foster collection and recycling in countries where infrastructure is not always in place, and will therefore help to stop plastic leakage into the environment​,” said Schneider. 

In terms of reaction to the news, it’s important to know that plastic will continue to play an important role in the food industry. This said, plastic must not end in nature. We want to close the loop, make more plastics infinitely recyclable and overall help advance the circular economy​.   

We are confident that the investment we make will have both a positive and transformative impact.​”

These two initiatives come in addition to Nestlé's ongoing efforts in research, sourcing and manufacturing to make its packaging recyclable or reusable and contribute to its goal to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

As part of the company's packaging commitment and to increase transparency, Nestlé will continue to outline further initiatives and provide regular progress updates.

"We are pleased to see Nestlé commit a CHF 2bn investment toward creating a circular economy for plastics, alongside a reduction of its use of virgin plastic in packaging by one third by 2025​,” said Andrew Morlet, CEO, Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

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. 

Achieving the commitments announced today will significantly contribute towards realizing this vision​." 

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