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Sustainability Director Moves: Nestle, Dell

Nestlé’s North American bottled water operation has hired Michael Washburn as director of sustainability.

In his new role, Washburn will lead Nestlé Waters’ efforts to increase recycling rates in the United States, innovate in energy use and building design and advocate for constructive water policies.

Nestlé Waters sells 15 brands of bottled water, including Perrier, Deer Park and Poland Spring.

Washburn recently held a senior position at The Wilderness Society, a public lands advocacy organization. He also served as vice president of brand management for the Forest Stewardship Council, where he advanced the adoption of independent forest-certification and product labeling programs.

Washburn spent over 15 years working in conservation roles at non-profits and universities, with a focus on sustainable forestry and land conservation. He holds a Ph.D. in forest policy from Penn State University.

“I’m eager to put my resource management and conservation experience to work for Nestlé Waters,” Washburn said. “I feel strongly that bottled water brings value to society, and I am looking forward to continued engagement with a wide range of stakeholders around water advocacy, energy use, waste and recycling approaches, such as Extended Producer Responsibility.”

Also on the HR front, Dell’s executive director of sustainable business, Mark Newton, is leaving the company after eight years.

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6 thoughts on “Sustainability Director Moves: Nestle, Dell

  1. One can not change the diet of a carnivore by working from the inside. Nestle is using all of this water and resources rather than investing into making sure people have clean water at the source. Now that is a business proposition companies dealing in water do not seem to be interested in pursuing! Next someone will want to make you pay for breathing because the air is too dirty! Oops! Did I say that?

  2. Sad to see Mark Newton leave Dell. He and his team have made excellent progress with Dell having now established some very solid environmental and energy efficiency practices. We hope that Dell is able to continue this momentum.

  3. So Washburn says that “I feel strongly that bottled water brings value to society”?

    That is either the purest form of propaganda bull****, or he is sadly mistaken in his beliefs.

    In first world countries like those in North America, tap water is readily available and safe to drink practically everywhere. There is no societal need for bottled water, outside of disaster situations or other niches. Bottled water superiority is a marketing myth.

    By far the most sustainable thing Nestle could do in this regard is to shut down all it’s bottled water production. It can cost up to 8,000 times as much energy to bottle and distribute the water than the energy needed to produce your own readily available tap water.

    There’s nothing wrong with Nestle wanting to make a buck. But there is something decidedly wrong when that desire has such direct, undeniable, and severe negative environmental consequences. Hiring someone to act as a ‘sustainability director’ overseeing such an egregious activity is nothing but greenwashing.

    Instead, Nestle could start manufacturing water filters for home and business use, for those who want to improve the taste of the water at their tap. And reusable water bottles so that the consumer can take that filtered water with them wherever they want.

    Stop contributing to the enormous waste of energy, and the enormous problem of bottle disposal, that is represented by bottled water consumption. It adds nothing to one’s quality of life, it costs the consumer plenty in wasted expense, and it costs the environment significant and lasting harm via via both CO2 and plastic waste release.

  4. If you believe that your tap water is safe for human consumption, you have become too reliant on safety standards established by the government. The chlorine and flouride in your treated water does indeed minimize the bacteria that could cause disease outbreaks,but your body does not accept even small amounts of the halide family. Serious health issues with longtime exposure to chlorine proves it is carcinogenic. Why does Nestle have the responsibility to produce anything that would alter your tap water? They did not put the chlorine in it. So as I travel, I have come to prefer the taste and safety of bottled waters, not just Nestle. Municipal tap waters always taste like a swimming pool, lemon does not kill the stink either. I do not own stock in Nestle or any other bottled water company. I have no problem paying for bottled water anymore than bottled soft drinks. You can make your own cola at home too, so do you think that Coca-Cola should not be in business to make a profit? Why does it bother anyone that people are willing to pay for something they want. If there is energy consumed, it gets paid for in the price of the product. I sell energy efficiency technologies, but have found that very few companies are willing to invest in these technologies because of the politicians in Washington have decided to make energy efficiency a political football. The real problem lies in DC. Energy security should be a non-partisian issue. The national security is at stake and Congress/Senate/White House are playing it like little boys in a sandbox. Idiots…

  5. It bothers nobody that people are willing to pay for what they want. What is bothersome in this case is that, in the process of making money, Nestle is having an enormously negative double impact on the environment.

    First, extra CO2 is being spewed into the air as they consume extra energy to produce the bottles, fill them with water (many times, from municipal tap water sources), and distribute the bottled water (mostly in trucks).

    Secondly, they are creating a huge waste stream of used plastic bottles. Most of them are not recycled. Most of it gets dumped into landfills to sit there for the next several thousand years. Much of it gets swept into the oceans, where it slowly photodegrades into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually reaching a size where birds and fish mistake it for food, consume it, and starve to death for lack of nutrients.

    Tap water is emminently safe for human consumption. Dan is merely repeating the marketing myths that bottled water companies have been promulgating.

    And how about the dangers of bottled water? Do you know for how long, or at what temperatures, the water has been sitting in your bottle before you consume it? Chemicals leach into the water from the plastic walls of the bottle. Several plastic solvents are hazardous to your health. How do you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that bottled water is any healthier for you than tap water?

  6. When I turn on my tap, no Coke flows out. So Coca Cola is justified in providing a product that it would be difficult for me to obtain elsewhere. Yes, I can make cola at home, but I have to buy equipment and ongoing supplies.

    But when I turn on my tap, water does flow out. So Nestle, and others, are not justified in providing me with an alternative to something that I already posess. At least not when they incur such damage to the environment in the process.

    I repeat that there is no societal need whatsoever for bottles water, outside of a few niche areas.

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