Managing environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability is one of our Corporate Business Principles, which form the foundation of all we do. The Principles state:

“We commit ourselves to environmentally sustainable business practices. At all stages of the product life cycle we strive to use natural resources efficiently, favour the use of sustainably-managed renewable resources, and target zero waste.”

We believe that all parts of society share responsibility for the environment. However, we’re determined to provide leadership within our own sphere of influence and for the resulting environmental benefits to become an extra reason for people to prefer our products.

The Nestlé Policy on Environmental Sustainability (pdf, 3 Mb), introduced in 1991, covers our entire value chain, from farm to consumer. We have identified our four priority areas: water, agricultural raw materials, manufacturing and distribution, and packaging that are specific to our food and beverage business.

The Policy incorporates the United Nations Global Compact’s three guiding principles on environment – namely, that business should:

  • Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges
  • Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility, and
  • Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies

Operating within environmental boundaries

Food production and consumption takes a large share of the world’s limited resources. Clean air and water, high quality land and soil, and the biodiversity and climate that support the food system need to be properly valued and used in a way that keeps the planet in balance.

We recognised that to measure progress meaningfully on environmental sustainability, it is essential to provide context and benchmarks for comparison.

We are increasingly focused on understanding our planet's total availability of natural capital. Our thinking in this regard has been guided by a seminal paper published by Rockström et al in 2009 (Nature 461, 472-475, 24 September 2009) which outlined planetary boundaries in areas such as biodiversity, nitrogen and climate change.

Only with this context will it be possible to determine whether our impacts on vital resources and ecosystem services are above, below or at the levels required to ensure their sufficiency or continued existence.

Even dramatically improved levels of eco-efficiency may still be insufficient. Balancing this serious challenge with our aim to ensure we continue to delight consumers in the future is arguably the most significant environmental challenge we face.


  • Nestlé Environmental Management System

    The Nestlé Environmental Management System (NEMS) is fully aligned with the international standard ISO 14001:2004 and has been implemented throughout the company since 1995. It sets out how all our sites comply with environmental legislation and the Nestlé Policy on Environmental Sustainability, to improve our environmental performance.


    Every Nestlé site uses the Nestlé Environmental Management System to improve environmental performance, ensure compliance with all relevant requirements and enable our factories to achieve ISO14001:2004 certification.

    Figure X: The Nestlé Environmental Management System

    By the end of 2012, 418 factories, 130 distribution centres and 24 R&D Centres were ISO 14001:2004 certified. It is our goal to achieve and maintain ISO 14001:2004 certification in all 468 factories. We are expanding certification to our distribution centres and R&D centres.

    Driving operational excellence

    Environmental sustainability is integral to Nestlé Continuous Excellence (NCE) – our strategy to drive operational efficiency and eliminating waste from the value chain. NCE’s main goal is to engage employees’ hearts and minds in this effort by:

    • Excelling in compliance, both legal and internal
    • Delighting our consumers, through sharing our sustainability aims and achievements in our brand communications, and
    • Driving competitive advantage, which in environmental terms means progressing towards zero waste, and improving water and energy efficiency

    Governance and oversight

    Ultimate organisational responsibility rests with our CEO, Paul Bulcke, who chairs the Creating Shared Value (CSV) Alignment Board.

    Operational responsibility sits with José Lopez, Executive Vice President of Operations and GLOBE (Global Business Excellence). He is an Executive Board member and reports directly to Paul Bulcke. Responsibility for environmental sustainability in R&D lies with Werner Bauer, Chief Technology Officer.

    Our heads of countries are accountable for implementing NEMS across the business, and a range of people are responsible for implementation at country and plant level – including management team members, country-level environmental managers reporting to the technical manager and plant managers supported by plant environmental officers.

    The below pyramid illustrates the spread of environmental management across Nestlé.

    We also have environmental sustainability groups at functional level, whose governance bodies feed into the board. These bodies are:

    • Operations Sustainability Council: chaired by Executive Vice President of Operations José Lopez. Ensures the integration of sustainability throughout the Company
    • Brands and CSV Advisory Team: chaired by Head of Marketing and Consumer Communication, Tom Buday, guides best practice in communicating our initiatives to consumers
    • Research & Development (R&D) Council for Sustainability and Nutrition: chaired by Chief Technology Officer, Werner Bauer

    Monitoring and audit

    At factory level, our corporate key performance indicators (KPIs) have been monitored through the Nestlé Environment and Safety Performance Tracking tool (NEST). We have now completed the implementation of a more advanced system, called SHE-PM, which will replace the NEST in 2013.

    We also have a rigorous system for tracking our corporate performance against environmental KPIs. Details of this system can be found in:

    Nestlé Environmental Performance Indicators 2012 (xls, 95 Kb)
    Definitions and comments on Environmental Performance Indicators 2012 (pdf, 380 Kb)

    Monitoring environmental incidents

    Our environmental management system also requires us to report environmental incidents and grievances at plants through the NEST. Any major incidents are immediately reported to the Safety, Health & Environmental Sustainability (SH&E) Group and the appropriate senior management, using the process outlined in the NEMS.

    Our requirements for compliance with the NEMS, and our management of non-conformities and corrective or preventative action, are aligned with ISO 14001:2004. The NEMS is formally reviewed at all our business premises at least once a year.

    Major SH&E incidents must be announced to our senior management as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours after identification, and an investigation of the incident must be initiated immediately. In the case of major incidents involving our sites or our employees, a senior country manager must oversee the investigation.

    Employee training and engagement

    We give employees detailed guidelines and instructions relating to The Nestlé Policy on Environmental Sustainability via the Company intranet. We also regularly communicate progress, performance and good practice through this and other channels, including face-to-face meetings.

    Engagement through e-learning

    Employees receive training on the relevant procedures as part of their induction and on-the-job coaching. To make this training engaging for non-specialists, we have developed a special e-learning training tool on environmental sustainability. This has now been deployed to just under 2,000 employees worldwide. In addition, our ‘Environmental Sustainability at the Centre’ initiative aims to build awareness and promote positive change at our headquarters.

    Engagement at Nespresso

    MyEcolaboration™ is an employee engagement initiative launched by Nespresso to encourage innovation, collaboration and commitment to our sustainability initiative, Ecolaboration™ (See also Responsible sourcing). So far, the programme has reached more than 1,000 employees and has generated 407 ideas.

    Other examples of employee engagement in 2012

    As part of our engagement we:

    • Launched the Nestlé Environmental Sustainability Leadership workshop to drive behavioural change in different business units
    • Held a Global Safety, Health and Environmental Sustainability conference attended by Environmental Managers from 70 different countries
    • Launched a video of ideas around mobility, food waste avoidance, recycling, business travel and energy-saving measures at the global headquarters, which has been replicated in other countries, and
    • Organised a ‘Save Paper’ campaign and many lunchtime conferences with external guest speakers open to all employees

    Stakeholder engagement

    We engage at local and global level across a range of environmental sustainability focused fora and working groups within and outside the food and beverage industry. At a regional and global level, these include:

    • Water Resources Group (WRG): working with a diverse set of partners from the private, public sector and civil society and under the leadership of our Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the WRG seeks new insights into water scarcity, explores the opportunities and costs of possible solutions, and fosters results-based stakeholder dialogue (see also Water - Public policy engagement)
    • The European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production Roundtable: an initiative that is co-chaired by the European Commission and food supply chain partners and supported by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and European Environment Agency (see also Promoting sustainable consumption)
    • FoodDrinkEurope Environmental Sustainability Committee: we chair the Environmental Sustainability Committee of FoodDrinkEurope, which represents the European food and drink industry. It recently launched an ‘Environmental Sustainability Vision Towards 2030’ report which featured our efforts to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020, and source 100% certified sustainable palm oil by 2015 (see also Packaging)
    • Consumer Goods Forum Sustainability Steering Committee: we are an active member of the Steering Committee
    • The Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership: we support the Natural Capital Leaders Platform which brings together leading thinkers and practitioners in the search for pragmatic and practical solutions

    See also Public policy and engagement for further details on how we work with external stakeholders to support our Nestlé in Society agenda.