Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Nestlé's Plastic Initiative Called 'Greenwashing' by Greenpeace

Business
Freedom Island Beach in the Philippines. Greenpeace

The environmental impact of the world's plastic consumption is profound. Plastic trash and the tiny pieces that chip off it can be found everywhere—in oceans, marine life, land and our bodies, too.

To help solve this planetary crisis, Nestlé pledged Tuesday to make all its plastic packaging 100 percent recyclable or reusable by 2025. The Swiss food giant envisions a world where "none of its packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfill or as litter," it said.


"Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach," Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider said in a statement.

Nestlé joins a number of major international corporations, such as rival Unilever, making similar commitments.

However, environmentalists say the move is not enough. As the world's largest food and beverage company, Nestlé's wide expanse of products—which includes bottled water, chocolate candy bars and instant coffee pods—"helped to create" this plastic pollution problem in the first place, according to a fiery response from Greenpeace.

In a statement provided to EcoWatch, Greenpeace criticized Nestlé's statement for not including clear targets or a timeline to reduce and eventually phase out single-use plastics.

"Nestlé's statement on plastic packaging includes more of the same greenwashing baby steps to tackle a crisis it helped to create," Greenpeace oceans campaigner Graham Forbes said. "It will not actually move the needle toward the reduction of single-use plastics in a meaningful way, and sets an incredibly low standard as the largest food and beverage company in the world. The statement is full of ambiguous or nonexistent targets, relies on 'ambitions' to do better, and puts the responsibility on consumers rather than the company to clean up its own plastic pollution."

During a 2017 beach clean-up on Freedom Island in the Philippines, the third worst polluter of the world's oceans, Greenpeace volunteers and coalition partners found more discarded Nestlé products than any other brand.

Greenpeace's Forbes said Nestlé has the power and resources to phase out single-use plastics and move towards zero-waste in its packaging.

"A company of Nestlé's size should be setting a strong standard to actually move away from throwaway plastics," Forbes said. "It should know by now that recycling efforts are not going to clean up our oceans, waterways and communities. On the contrary, the company's business as usual will only accelerate plastic pollution."

Nestlé's new initiative focuses on three core areas: eliminate non-recyclable plastics; encourage the use of plastics that allow better recycling rates; and eliminate or change complex combinations of packaging materials.

"We are working on changing the colors used for our plastic packaging. Lighter colors are easier to recycle," Nestlé sustainability expert Duncan Pollard told reporters, as quoted by CNBC.

Pollard said the recycling of single-use plastics depends on there being recycling infrastructure in place, particularly in Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

Nestlé was in the center of controversy last week after the state of Michigan granted its bottled water subsidiary a permit to increase groundwater withdrawal from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute from its White Pine Springs well.

The approval came despite near universal opposition from residents—81,862 comments against the permit versus 75 in favor—who cited Nestlé's nominal $200-a-year fee to pump water from its wells. The fee will not change with the new permit.

Nestlé's White Pine Springs well also happens to lie approximately 120 miles from the lead-poisoned city of Flint. Bottled water companies have drawn outrage from many communities for privatizing their public water supply in the face of Flint's years-long drinking water crisis, where some residents have been billed hundreds of dollars for water they cannot drink.

On top of that, the Michigan government declared on Friday that Flint's drinking water was now safe and announced it would stop providing free bottled water to the city's residents.

Detroit journalist and Flint water crisis writer Anna Clark remarked that it was "not lost" on Flint locals that the state's decision came just days after Nestlé "won the right to pump more Michigan water for free."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less