Technological watch

Nestlé Waters doesn’t deserve bashing from anti-plastics protesters

They say that in football the best defense is a good offense. In the plastics industry, sometimes the offense is completely ignored by those whose goal is to rid the world of plastic. On April 16, activists from Greenpeace gathered at Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters in Arlington, VA, to protest the company’s continued reliance on single-use plastic bottles. They carried a giant 15-foot tall “monster” puppet made of all types of scrap plastic created by Paperhand Puppet Intervention. The monster reportedly spewed plastic waste outside of Nestlé’s office before finally being left on the company’s doorstep, said a report in Forbes.

Greenpeace Plastics Campaigner Kate Melges explained in a statement, “Nestlé has created a monster by producing endless quantities of throwaway plastics that persist in our environment for lifetimes,” reported Forbes.

This protest came shortly after from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries for its design of the Pure Life 700-ml bottle made from 100% recycled PET (rPET). Obviously, the people at Greenpeace—which has become known for its increasingly radical and destructive behavior toward any company that doesn’t conform to its way of thinking—either cannot or refuse to read about the tremendous strides Nestlé is making toward a circular economy.

Greenpeace officials are demanding the company “phase out or significantly reduce” the amount of plastic it uses in the first place, saying that in 2018 Nestlé produced 13% more plastic than during the previous year, noted the Forbes article.

A Nestlé spokesperson, responding to that accusation by e-mail to Forbes, called that number “a misunderstanding arising from two numbers which are not comparable,” noting that the company’s increase in plastic output is less than the organic sales growth of the company, the latter having increased by 18.5% over the last five years.

Nestlé Waters announced on April 9 that the company will achieve 25% recycled plastic content across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2021, and “plans to continue expanding its use of recycled materials in the coming years, further setting an ambitious goal to reach 50% recycled plastic by 2025.” The company also noted that it is expanding its relationship with key supplier Plastrec (Joliette, QC, Canada) and is working with other suppliers to support the company’s goal to nearly quadruple its use of food-grade recycled plastic, or rPET, in less than three years.

“We want to take the ‘single’ out of ‘single-use’ bottles,” said Fernando Mercé, President and CEO of Nestlé Waters NA. “PET plastic is a valuable resource that, if recycled properly, can be used to make new bottles again and again. We’re proving that it can be done by making bottles out of other bottles, not 10 years from now, but today.”

Organizations like Greenpeace, As You Sow and others seem to turn a deaf ear to all the efforts that plastics industry OEMs are making to address the problem of plastics in the environment—even though it’s not a plastic problem as much as a people problem. Plastic doesn’t walk into the environment by itself, and the amount of PET needed to support efforts to use recycled content in great numbers requires everyone to pitch in and pitch their PET into the proper recycling bin.

Mercé wrote an editorial recently at morningconsult.com (“Taking the ‘Single’ Out of ‘Single-Use’ Plastic Bottles”) in which he stated, “The truth is, the plastic we use to make most of our water bottles was not meant to be thrown away. It was designed to be collected, recycled and reused again and again. This process is known as a ‘circular economy,’ and it is the key to significantly reducing the need to create new plastic.”

Publication date: 20/04/2019

Plastics Today

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2019-09-18