GREENWICH, Conn. Nestle Waters North America is addressing criticism directed toward its packaging, which some say is environmentally wasteful. The company, which produces major bottled water brand Poland Spring, says it has been taking steps to ensure environmental friendliness; it just had never considered it necessary to speak up about its efforts.
Nestle Waters chief executive officer Kim Jeffery remembers when he first heard about Wal-Mart’s environmental initiatives and says he realized he could think of 10 similar things his company had done; it’s just that no one knew about them. For one, Nestle Waters had built LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) factories, as well as worked with vendors to reduce the amount of plastic in its Poland Spring, Deer Park and other spring water brand bottles. It had also worked toward building awareness and new solutions to increase recycling.
In 2007, the company eliminated 15 percent of their bottles’ weight, sparing 65 million pounds of plastic resin and decreasing energy production costs by 10 percent. Jeffery says he has become an “outspoken advocate of comprehensive recycling initiatives,” despite the fact that once the bottles is in the hands of consumers, his ability to get them to a recycling center is limited. Nestle Waters is currently working with the American Beverage Association to establish a model recycling program in Hartford, Conn. to raise recycling rates in the area. If successful, the plan will be expanded to other cities.
The company hopes to reduce its plastic bottles by another 15 percent by 2010, though it believes this last 15 percent is the furthest it can go in reducing weight and plastic resin in its bottles. It also plans on continuing its efforts to cut its transportation, production and water use. “Being environmentally responsible is part of our DNA and has been in the 30 years that I’ve been with the company,” Jeffery said.
“Obviously, protecting the source of our product is important to us. We wouldn’t have a long-term business otherwise.”