The CEO of Nestle Waters says when it comes to long-term economics, relying on recycled content is a strong bet.
Earlier this month Nestle Waters announced its West Coast bottled water brand Arrowhead is increasing its recycled PET content in many bottle sizes by 38 percent so that those bottles will include up to 50 percent rPET. In July, the company stated its Resource brand would be available in bottles containing 100 percent recycled PET, excluding the cap and label.
Recently, the company’s CEO, Tim Brown, put those moves in the context of profitability.
“Long term, we think renewable resources are going to have a cost advantage over non-renewable,” Brown said in an interview with Resource Recycling. “At any given point in time, that may or may not be the case. At this point in time, it’s not really because of the low price of petroleum. But long term we think a system needs to be built because in the equation of energy and scarcity of resources, we believe renewables will be more cost effective.”
In a follow-up, a Nestle Waters representative said the company views “renewable” as anything other than virgin material. Some beverage packaging efforts of late have investigated the plausibility of constructing PET bottles from bio-based sources, and the Nestle representative said such innovations would fall under its renewable vision.
Still, Nestle Waters has demonstrated a focus on recycled PET. Brown explained the boost in recycled content in Arrowhead bottles came as a result of partnership between Nestle Waters and plastics recycling firm CarbonLite Industries, which is based in Los Angeles. He said conditions in California – a large population producing high volumes of material near CarbonLite’s plant as well as the California container redemption system that brings high-quality material into the stream – have helped create a prime environment for the recycled content push.
“A lot of what we’re doing in California is model-building or system-building for a circular economy,” Brown said, “and we think the momentum built with players like ourselves will help create systems to make circular economies possible.”
When it comes to how Nestle defines “circular economy,” Brown offered the following: “Our version of closed loop is bottle-to-bottle. I don’t think it’s beyond reach we might someday be talking about upcycling and taking the PET material in fibers and using it in bottles. But our short-term vision really is a bottle-to-bottle world.”