Picture: 123rf/KEN WOLTER
Picture: 123rf/KEN WOLTER

Geneva — Swiss food giant Nestlé said on Thursday that it would invest 2.0-billion Swiss francs ($2.1bn) over five years to cut its use of virgin plastics [the resin produced directly from the petrochemical feed-stock, such as natural gas or crude oil, which has never been used or processed before] in favour of food-grade recycled plastics.

The company, which has brands that include Nespresso coffee, Vittel water and Smarties chocolates, also plans to invest in new types of sustainable packaging to meet its target of making all its packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025.

Nestlé also said in a statement that it would reduce its use of virgin plastics by one third over the next five years and would set up a venture fund with 250-million Swiss francs to invest in start-up companies working in the recycling sector.

To create a market for recycled plastics, it said it would source up to 2-million tonnes of food-grade recycled plastics and allocate more than 1.5-billion Swiss francs to pay a premium for the material between now and 2025.

“No plastic should end up in landfill or as litter,” Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in the statement.

Major corporations, often criticised by campaigners for putting profit before the environment, are trying to respond to growing pressure from consumers for more responsible practices.

Food and cosmetics giant Unilever announced last September that it will cut its use of new plastic in packaging in half by 2025, acknowledging that the move is partly aimed at young, more environmentally conscious customers.

Fast food giant McDonald’s pledged in October to speed up moves to minimise the use of plastic in its restaurants in Europe.

Said Nestlé’s Schneider, “Making recycled plastics safe for food is an enormous challenge for our industry. That is why, in addition to minimising plastics use and collecting waste, we want to close the loop and make more plastics infinitely recyclable.”