About to turn 110 years in Malaysia, Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage manufacturer, is a firm believer that sustainability needs to be a key driving force behind shaping the future of its business. At the heart lies the Creating Shared Value (CSV) approach, which is about having a beneficial impact on the communities where the company operates. Increasingly, CSV becomes more closely tied to stewarding the planet’s natural resources for future generations and addressing the planet’s environmental and climate change threats.
Today, Nestlé is utilising its size, scale and reach to take action on these matters. Accelerating this transformation is the Company’s Net-Zero Roadmap, a timebound aggressive plan to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. To attain this, Nestlé is scaling up measures against climate change with multiple initiatives to minimise the impact of its operations. This includes reducing the carbon footprint of all its brands, transitioning to renewable energy sources and partnering across its value chain to accelerate action. With a large part of CO2 emissions linked to its supply of raw materials, the company has recently embarked on a regeneration journey driving the adoption at scale of agricultural and farming practices that nurture the soil and protect biodiversity, enhancing its capacity to capture CO2 from the atmosphere.
In addition to the focus on climate change efforts, the company has been scaling up its war against plastic waste by reducing the amount of plastic it uses and creating systems to encourage increased levels of collection, separation at source and recycling.
Plastic waste generation worldwide has been rising at an alarming rate. According to a United Nations report, in the Asia Pacific region alone, plastic waste is expected to reach 140 million tonnes by 2030, with Malaysia among the top 11 contributing countries. Further compounding this problem is that much of this waste ends in oceans, rivers and other water bodies.
Juan Aranols, Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé (Malaysia) Berhad & Region Head of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei is of the firm view that plastic pollution calls for rapidly shifting mindsets and creating capabilities to adopt a circular economy approach to plastic waste. “Circularity is about creating value by reusing and reprocessing used plastic waste as input to produce new packaging vs. using virgin plastics. We see every day the impact of the plastic waste problem in our shores, lakes and forests. This is why we are ramping up our efforts including working with like-minded stakeholders and consumers across all our businesses.”
As part of the Company’s sustainability roadmap, Nestlé has made a global pledge to ensure that 100% of its packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2025 and to cut virgin plastic in its packaging by one third by 2025. Four main pillars support this commitment.
Pioneering adoption of environmentally-friendlier packaging solutions
As part of its commitment to achieve a waste-free future, Nestlé continuously innovates to create more sustainable packaging solutions while improving product quality. Providing expertise to develop disruptive, high-quality and safe packaging are scientists and packaging specialists that Nestlé teams up with through its Institute of Packaging Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The Company has already achieved important breakthroughs. This includes implementing 100% paper straws across its entire UHT range, making Nestlé Malaysia the first large-scale food and beverage company in ASEAN to do so and phasing out over 200 million plastic straws per year in Malaysia.
The Company has also heightened its recycling drive by developing new packaging communication aimed at educating consumers on how to properly recycle Nestlé products. This is featured already across a wide variety of Nestlé brands and products.
“Improving the environmental performance of our packaging has become one of the key actions under our sustainability agenda. We have already reduced hundreds of tonnes of usage of virgin plastic by eliminating redundant packaging or reducing its idle headspace. We are now advancing to move our entire RTD bottles range to recycled PET, eliminating the use of virgin new plastic. Today, 90% of Nestlé Malaysia’s packaging is already designed for recycling with well-over two-thirds of our plastic packaging being already recyclable,” said Aranols.
Building alliances and partnership to accelerate the roll out of solutions at scale
Recognising that transformational change requires a collective effort, Nestlé leverages the power of multistakeholder partnerships to work towards common sustainability goals.
Established in 2012, MILO® UHT collaborated with Tetra Pak® to launch the CAREton Project to collect used beverage cartons (UBCs) to be recycled into ‘green’ roofing tiles and panel boards for the community. Since its establishment, nearly 200 million drink packs have been collected and upcycled. As an example, the different elements of the packs are separated and converted into roofing tiles and panel boards that are used to build homes for Orang Asli communities partnering with EPIC Homes, as well as for community projects in Johor and Selangor.
Additionally, Nestlé recently teamed up with 10 other large FMCG companies in Malaysia to establish the Malaysian Recycling Alliance (MAREA), a voluntary Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) initiative to further foster circular economy efforts.
Encouraging behaviour change and engaging communities to increase recycling rates
To encourage good recycling habits amongst local communities and help to organise collection and separation at source, in 2020, the Company joined hands with the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to launch a Recycling and Door-to-Door Collection programme in Petaling Jaya (PJ) as a voluntary EPR initiative, with the aim of implementing a more effective and integrated system of solid waste management.
The programme has reached eight townships in PJ, benefitting over 20,000 households. With a participation rate of close to 80% and collection of over 700 tonnes of recyclable waste, the initiative has been recognised by both the United Nations Environment Programme and Ministry of Environment Malaysia. It is currently being expanded to reach the residents of Subang Jaya and Shah Alam in partnership with the Subang Jaya City Council (MBSJ) and Shah Alam City Council (MBSA).
“We are very pleased that our collection programme is achieving high participation rates and sees a very good response from the community. This is very encouraging and talks highly about the willingness of Malaysians to do their part for the environment. By providing convenient access to recycling, such as setting up regular waste collection services and educating the public on how to easily segregate waste at home, we are making recycling an easy option for everybody,” said Aranols.
Through this programme, the Company aims to drive greater awareness on post-consumer waste and expand the recycling mindset and behaviours to more Malaysian households. The current programmes are set to collect around 2,000 tonnes of waste yearly from 2022 and Nestlé is willing to continue partnering with new cities and states in this programme. This is also supportive of the Government’s target to reach a National Recycling Rate of 40% by 2025.
Walking the talk with Nestlé Volunteers
Since 2019, Nestlé Malaysia mobilises every year Nestlé employees who volunteer their time to drive Nationwide Beach Clean-ups. Additionally, some of them participated in the first underwater clean-up event in 2020. In 2020, smaller scale events were done adhering closely to COVID-19 prevention protocols as mandated by authorities. The Company has collected more than 8,000kg of waste at over 20 locations around Malaysia to date.
“Protecting the planet is a shared responsibility. Nature has provided us with an abundance of resources that we have in some ways collectively taken for granted and often squandered. It is this generation’s obligation to stop adding more damage to nature and to explore all possible ways to restore the damage done. We owe it to our children and to all next generations to come,” concluded Aranols.