Nestle Australia has pledged to plant 10 million trees over the next three years, a significant component of its parent company’s larger reforestation initiative aiming to plant 200 million trees globally. This move is a part of Nestle’s broader commitment to greener operations.
In the forthcoming decades, Nestle envisages a more sustainable future: KitKats will come in fully recycled packaging, Nespresso coffee will be sustainably sourced, and Milo’s raw ingredients will be harvested using regenerative agricultural practices. Even a vegan version of KitKat will become widely available.
Overhauling manufacturing and production
These ambitious steps, which include a complete overhaul of manufacturing processes, underscore Nestle’s endeavour to communicate its sustainability commitments to consumers through some of its most popular brands.
“We are a food company. We need ingredients that come from the land,” asserted Nestle Oceania CEO Sandra Martinez.
“If we do not ensure that we can restore, renew, protect the land that gives us the ingredients, the nutrients that every one of us puts on the table, we won’t have a future.”
With 36 years of experience at Nestle, Ms. Martinez warned that businesses could face substantial repercussions if they fail to address the urgent climate change crisis.
“I think we get that sense of urgency,” she added.
Like other global conglomerates such as Cadbury’s parent company Mondelez, Nestle is dedicated to demonstrating its climate credentials to retain consumer loyalty and market share.
Reforestation projected to reduce CO2 emissions by 2.1 million tonnes
Nestle Australia has already made progress towards planting 10 million trees, with 200,000 already in the ground. These trees are projected to reduce 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 over 27 years, a contribution Nestle insists is more than a token gesture.
A year ago, the company switched to 100% renewable energy. Today, its six Australian factories, two distribution centres, three corporate offices, and 20 retail boutiques operate on wind power.
Nestle, the global food giant valued at $365 billion, has partnered with Greening Australia, Canopy, and One Tree Planted to implement its reforestation initiative in Australia. The initiative seeks to offset Scope 3 emissions, which are released during the production of Nestle’s raw materials, such as sugar and cocoa.
The majority of emissions come from farming and agriculture
Importantly, two-thirds of Nestle’s total global emissions come from farming and agriculture.
“The most obvious benefit is biodiversity, and that’s great. But it also benefits the soil of that area … that captures carbon emissions,” Ms Martinez noted.
Nestle is adopting a holistic approach to sustainability, overhauling every stage of farming and food production for all its products and ingredients.
For instance, Nestle plans to incentivise cocoa farmers in West Africa, whose produce is used in KitKats, to employ regenerative agricultural practices through payment bonuses. The company is also exploring less carbon-intensive methods of flour production and ways to reduce methane in dairy.
Nestle is scrutinising coffee production for major brands like Nespresso and Nescafé, with plans to utilise 100% natural fertilisers and improve shading to retain soil moisture.
Push for greater circularity in supply chains
The company is also actively boosting recycling in Australia. Although Nespresso pods are recyclable, they must be returned to a Nespresso boutique, dropped off at a partnered florist, or sent in pre-paid AusPost satchels.
In response to the collapse of the REDcycle initiative, Nestle is collaborating with the Australian Food and Grocery Council to establish kerbside soft plastic collection.
Since March 2021, Australian KitKat packaging has been made with 30% recycled plastic, ensuring all packaging is 100% recyclable or reusable by 2025.
Despite earning $2.4 billion in revenue in Australia in 2021, Nestle’s tree-planting project funding will come directly from the Swiss headquarters, not the local business.
“These sustainability investments that we are committing to are part of forward-looking investments that may not have a payback in the short term, but are absolutely critical for the sustainability of the business in the long term,” Ms Martinez emphasised.
She continued, “For us, it’s not just about doing the right thing; it’s about ensuring the longevity of our supply chain and the health of the environments in which we operate. Our focus is on creating a sustainable future for our business and our consumers.”