Nestlé Waters North America is investing $6 million in an effort to find a national solution to the “critical recycling gap” in the US, the company announced today. Its investment is going to the Closed Loop Fund, a $100 million social impact investment fund committed to funding comprehensive recycling infrastructure and programs in cities across the US.
Nestlé Waters joins the ranks of companies like 3M, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Keurig Green Mountain, PepsiCo and the PespiCo Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Walmart, and the Walmart Foundation.
The so-called recycling gap refers to the fact that, while 75% of the waste stream in the US is recyclable, just 30% actually gets recycled. In 2015, businesses and municipalities in the US spent over $5 billion disposing of waste in landfills. Much of this waste, such as PET plastic, is in demand among manufacturers as raw material for everything from textiles to packaging. In fact, major CPGs, in hoping to improve their recycled plastic packaging, can’t get their hands on enough recycled plastic, the NY Times reported when the Closed Loop Fund kicked off in 2015. The problem is the infrastructure: most recycling facilities aren’t able to collect, sort and process plastics and still turn a profit, according to the article.
Nestle Waters’ chief sustainability officer Nelson Switzer says the company is aiming toward zero landfill waste in its products and operations. [Editor’s note: Switzer will be speaking at the Environmental Leader 2017 Conference in Denver, June 5-7.]
Currently, the Closed Loop Fund has diverted more than 100,000 tons of recyclable content, and the 11 projects currently funded are poised to divert 4 million tons by 2025. In that same timeframe, the Fund aims to:
- Eliminate more than 40 million tons of greenhouse gas;
- Divert more than 20 million cumulative tons of waste from landfills;
- Provide a $40M economic benefit to municipalities;
- Prove replicable models that will help unlock additional investment in recycling.
Last month, Nestlé Waters announced that 9 out of 10 of its Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water bottles incorporate 50% post-consumer recycled plastic content. As a result, 1.8 billion bottles have been kept from landfills, and the 86 million pounds of recycled plastic has saved 69,660 tons of carbon emissions. In March, Nestlé Waters and Danone — the world’s two largest bottled water companies — said they were partnering to develop and launch at commercial scale a PET plastic bottle made from 100% bio-based material.
Meanwhile, the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) has launched a Sustainability Advisory Board. The goal of the board is to enlist a diverse group of plastics industry professionals to discuss and identify sustainability priorities in the plastics industry.