The consumer landscape is changing and it’s having a serious impact on the packaging decisions of many major companies, especially in Europe. Among the companies considering a switch from traditionally developed packaging to bioplastics, is Nestlé, who announced their intentions to swap out their current plastic packaging at a February conference in Las Vegas. Despite two years of global downturn, Nestlé reported profit of $36bn on sales of $115bn in 2010. With an excess of 280,000 employees in 80 countries and a product range of 10,000 different, Nestlé brings in about 1 billion a day. That’s a lot of wrappers.
For their developed consumers who can afford to burden the cost of the change, the company is introducing more “smart” packaging, with bar codes and integrated three-dimensional animation, to direct consumers to company websites and to increase recycling rates. The barcodes; however are unlike the ones most people are accustomed to at the grocery store. These barcodes are designed to detect where would be the closest point (to the purchaser) to recycle the packaging, according to the company. This latest development is a continuation in a long history of Nestlé’s policy of sustainability which began in 1991. Since then the company has come to rely on life-cycle assessments, promoting recycling and recovery and using renewable materials.
Nestlé’s first policy on sustainability was formulated in 1991, and in its evolution has come to rely on life-cycle assessments; promoting recycling and recovery; renewable materials; and lightweighting. Nestlé is currently in the process of further investigating bioplastics. From 2015 on, Nestlé will be looking to implement the use of conventional or new bioplastics adapted to packaging applications that are derived from non-food sources such as wood, agricultural waste, drought-resistant plants and algae.
The use of algae based bioplastics has been gaining popularity in Europe, which has appeared to be ahead of the pack in terms of using bioplastics. Cereplast, Inc., a California based bioplastic maker has been at the forefront of this movement, sealing distribution deals in Romania, Poland, Italy and Turkey over the past year. Italy has put a ban on plastic bags and individual companies across Europe are working for greater sustainability at a rate currently unrivaled by other parts of the world. Major American corporations have also been peppering their product lines with new, more sustainable packaging, a trend that is likely to continue in coming years. Recently, non-food based plastics consisting of algae, like Cereplast used to create the resins that eventually create the final products have been gaining significant attention for the lessened effect they would have on the food supply once bioplastics begin gaining larger portion of the market share.
Source: World Market Media WMM, 2011-03-02.