Quality, disclosure central to Nestle's latest water stewardship strategy

By 2020, the company hopes to produce bottles that are made from 100 percent recycled or renewable materials.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

When your business centers on selling bottled water, you are bound to be the subject of scrutiny during a week when everyone is talking about better water stewardship -- which is why Nestle Waters North America picked this timing for its 2010 Corporate Citizenship Report.

The company has set a six new water-related goals, which are communicated in the report. (There are others for other sustainability measures, which I'll get to later in the post.) The water goals are:

  1. Enhance our water stewardship practices by partnering with local communities and stakeholders to support up to two watershed improvement projects per year (2011 to 2015). Right now, the company maintains 14,000 acres as open space around its spring sources.
  2. Optimize water use ratios by product type over 2009 levels. Since 2005, the company has managed a 1.5 percent reduction in its water use ratio, while increasing its production volumes by more than 30 percent. Its water intensity ratio in 2010, however, was slightly higher than it was in 2009 (1.39 liter/liter in 2010 vs. 1.38 liters/liter in 2009).
  3. Add language to product labels about how to access water quality reports
  4. Continue to advocate for federal standards on public disclosure of source, quality and process reporting for bottle water (2011)
  5. Continue efforts to educate and encourage citizens to reduce their average annual caloric intake from beverages
  6. Increase the research of education through support and engagement with leading water education entities

Here's why what Nestle has to say matters: it was the first company to bring bottled water to Americans back in 1976 through the Perrier brand; today, it is the largest bottled water in the United States and Canada.

Side from stewardship, the most obvious area for Nestle to scrutinize is the impact of its bottles. So, it shouldn't surprise you to hear that the company is pushing for increased recycling rates for its PET beverage bottles: to 60 percent by 2018 in the United States, and to 85 percent in Canada. I'm sure the disparity in those percentages has something to do with production volume in one country versus another, but doesn't it seem odd that there is one?

Another big focus for this year will be a complete assessment of the materials and packaging footprint. This effort is focused not only on changing what goes into the bottles so that they can be recycled or reused more easily, it also focuses on reducing the weight of the products. Ultimately, by 2020 Nestle is striving to develop next-generation bottles that are made from 100 percent recycled or renewable material.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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