Which Packages Nestlé is Converting
5/24/2023 Design New Paths Sustainability Interview

Which Packages Nestlé is Converting

In this interview, Bernd Büsing, Head of Packaging at Nestlé Germany, talks about the food company's latest packaging changes.

Bernd Büsing, Corporate Packaging Lead at Nestlé Deutschland. Product protection remains the top priority, says Bernd Büsing, Head of Packaging at Nestlé Germany.

What conditions must be met for Nestlé to change its packaging?

Packaging has an important role to play in food retail. It contributes significantly to the safety and quality of the products. Our products are exposed to many external influences during transport, in the store, and also in the storage cupboard at home. Packaging ensures shelf life and provides the necessary protection.

On the way to a waste-free future, we must keep packaging materials in circulation. There is no universal packaging solution for all product categories and formats. Each food product has its own characteristics and product protection requirements, which we must consider when developing packaging solutions. After all, product safety and quality are our top priorities, and the packaging must ensure them.

Product protection remains the top priority. But Nestlé still has big changes in store for packaging?

We have made a global commitment that more than 95 percent of our plastic packaging will be suitable for recycling or reusable by 2025. We are working flat out to reach 100 percent. Globally, we are at 81.9 percent as of the end of 2022 when it comes to plastic packaging. In Germany, we have a well-developed collection, sorting, and recycling infrastructure. As a result, 97 percent of all our packaging in this country is already recyclable or reusable by weight. In addition, Nestlé aims to use one-third less virgin plastic by 2025 – compared to 2018.

What is the market like for recyclates for food packaging?

Nestlé is investing two billion Swiss francs in a circular economy for plastics. Most plastics are difficult to recycle for food packaging. As a result, there is a limited supply of food-grade recycled plastics. With our investment, we want to create a market for recyclates. To do this, we will for example pay a premium on these materials. Our goal is to source up to 2 million tons of food-grade recycled plastics by 2025. At Nestlé's Institute of Packaging Sciences, 50 colleagues are also researching more sustainable packaging materials.

As a result, we are using alternative packaging materials to plastic, using less packaging where possible, as well as recycled material, and testing refill and reuse concepts.

Which packaging is Nestlé currently converting in Germany?

We are currently testing the reusable packaging concept of the Frankfurt-based start-up Circolution with our cocoa brand Nesquik. This involves standardized stainless steel deposit containers that consumers can return via the existing deposit machines in supermarkets. We have also collaborated with Circolution on packaging development: Nestlé's Product and Technology Center for Milk in Konolfingen, Switzerland, was responsible for product protection, laboratory testing, and preparation for production of the containers.

From now on, we will offer our Thomy brand mustard, mayonnaise, and remoulade tubes containing 100-milliliters in packaging produced using 95 percent recycled aluminum. This year, we will also change Thomy's 200-milliliter tubes.

We manufacture our Nespresso Original coffee capsules under the Nespresso, Starbucks, and Nescafé Farmers Origins brands from 80 percent recycled aluminum.

Our squeeze bottles in the Thomy range contain 20 percent recycled material. Our goal is to increase the proportion of recycled material in squeeze bottles.

We are also investing in improving outer packaging materials, for example during transport. At the Maggi plant in Singen, Germany, the factory team secures packaging on a tray with shrink film, half of which is made of recyclate. 10 percent of the recyclate is obtained from the yellow bag. This is a joint development with Green Dot.

“Maggi put on a glass diet”

We package our Smarties brand entirely in recyclable paper.

We have converted the styrofoam trays previously used for Thomy mustard, mayonnaise, and remoulade tubes to paper fiber castings.

The Maggi brand has changed its instant soup and sauce bags from composite film to one made from a mono-material that is recyclable when disposed of in the yellow garbage can. We put our iconic “Maggi seasoning” on a “glass diet” and have thus reduced the weight of the 1,000-gram bottle. Less packaging reduces CO2 emissions during production and transport.

We offer a refill pack for the Nescafé Gold jars (200 grams and 100 grams). With each refill and reuse of the empty jars, more than 97 percent of the packaging weight is saved in material compared with the Nescafé Gold 200-gram jar (including lid, calculated per gram of soluble coffee). At the same time, the amount of plastic is reduced by almost 60 percent compared with the lid of the 200-gram jar (calculated per gram of soluble coffee).