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Nestlé announces details of plan to phase out nonrecyclable plastic by 2025

Nestlé SA on Jan. 15 announced measures it will take to meet its commitment to phase out all plastics that are not recyclable or are hard to recycle for all its products worldwide by 2025.

Starting in February 2019, the Swiss food giant intends to eliminate all plastic straws from its goods and replace them with straws made from paper and other materials. As part of that plan, it will begin rolling out paper packaging for its Nesquik products and Smarties candy in 2019.

The company also plans to increase the recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, content in its bottles to 35% by 2025 at the global level and 50% in the U.S., with a specific focus on its popular brand Poland Spring. A similar increase in recycled PET content in some of its European water brands, such as Buxton and Acqua Panna, is expected by 2025.

"While we are committed to pursuing recycling options where feasible, we know that 100% recyclability is not enough to successfully tackle the plastics waste crisis," said Nestlé CEO Mark Schneider in a statement. "We need to push the boundaries and do more. ... We believe in the value of recyclable and compostable paper-based materials and biodegradable polymers, in particular where recycling infrastructure does not exist."

About 4% of world oil and gas production is used as feedstock for plastics and a further 3%-4% is used to provide energy for their manufacture, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences. A large amount of plastic is used to make disposable items of packaging and other short-lived products that are thrown away within one year of manufacture. "These two observations alone indicate that our current use of plastics is not sustainable," the study noted.

Nestlé in April 2018 announced its commitment to make all of its packaging, across its 4,200 facilities worldwide, recyclable or reusable by 2025. The company was criticized at the time by environmental group Greenpeace for not setting clear targets or plans.

In October 2018 it also joined other food and drink manufacturers, such as Walmart Inc., Unilever PLC and PepsiCo Inc., in signing a global commitment to eliminate plastic waste and switching to sustainable packaging by 2025.

In December 2018, Nestlé created the Institute of Packaging Sciences to develop sustainable packaging materials. The hope is that none of its packaging, including plastics, ends up in landfills or as litter. Over the longer term, it also hopes to stop plastic leakage into the environment across its global operations.

Nestlé said it had identified several materials for which recycling schemes are unlikely to be established. These materials, such as polystyrene, used to make trays, pots and tubs, or polyvinyl chloride, used to make sleeves, labels and films, would no longer be used in new product packaging. In addition, the company plans to immediately begin phasing out these materials from existing packaging.