Food and beverage company Nestlé launched its RE sustainability initiative in South Africa on October 29.
The initiative is aimed at reinforcing Nestlé's sustainability initiatives, strategies and resources to help mitigate sustainability challenges and strengthen its contribution to a waste-free future.
The initiative will focus on three key pillars to tackle the sustainability issues – rethink, reduce and repurpose.
The initiative encourages everyone – industry, civil society, consumers and government – to rethink, reduce and repurpose in their own way by making sustainability more practical, accessible, motivating and rewarding.
Nestlé East and Southern Africa corporate communications and public affairs director Saint-Francis Tohlang says sustainability challenges cannot be addressed through a singular approach.
“The world is plagued by sustainability challenges, whether one looks at these from the scourge of managing post-consumer waste, access to water and water scarcity in our parts of the world, impact of climate change on agricultural production and food security or ecological degradation due to industrial activity.”
He adds that Nestlé, in East and Southern Africa, believes that circular economy principles will be what is going to drive the transformative agenda. “Businesses, including ourselves, need to rethink and approach our businesses in a circular way as opposed to extractive industrial models based on ‘take-make-waste’ if we are truly going to make a lasting impact to save the environment.
“We know that addressing sustainability challenges cannot be resolved without collaboration and therefore it becomes important to work with like-minded partners to, amongst others, drive more circular initiatives to strive for zero environmental impact,” adds Tohlang.
THE RE PILLARS
In terms of the rethink pillar, Nestlé notes that this pillar speaks to rethinking and encouraging the broader society to rethink their relationship with the environment.
For its part, the company intends driving this by educating the public about ways in which their behaviours can be shifted to better serve the environment. Some of the examples include water conversation, recycling and sustaining environmentally responsible practices.
As far as the reduce pillar is concerned, Nestlé says this speaks to the company’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact to zero. “This is part of our global ambition to strive for zero impact on the environment by 2030.”
Nestlé says it will do this by driving reduction across its value chain; for example, food and plastic waste as well as operational inefficiencies that contribute to waste.
Regarding the repurpose pillar, Nestlé points out that this pillar focuses on upcycling and reusing materials. “This is where we accelerate our circular economy business models and projects to show commitment and leadership in this space,” the company states.
Through the RE initiative, Tohlang says Nestlé intends driving a “paradigm shift” by formulating and implementing practical solutions that will safeguard the environment.
“Being a leading food and beverage company in the world, we have drawn lessons from other markets that have successfully implemented such initiatives. We are therefore in a better position to replicate these in South Africa. After all, sustainability challenges are societal challenges which require societal responses.”