This week Nestlé publicly committed to reaching zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The food company, which had previously aligned its environmental objectives with science-based targets, specified strategies for reaching the goal.
“Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face as a society. It is also one of the greatest risks to the future of our business,” CEO Mark Schneider said on Thursday. His company plans to sign the Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City on September 23. CEOs from businesses that include Unilever, Levi Strauss & Co., Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and SAP have also signed the pledge.
Schneider noted that Nestlé has already started working toward zero. Over the past four years, the company reports decreasing greenhouse gas emissions in their top 100 distribution centers by nearly 40%.
In order to achieve the 2050 goal, the food producer is focusing on three areas of action.
One is launching more products that have “a better environmental footprint and contribute to a balanced diet.” This includes more plant-based food and beverage options, according to the company. Nestlé also plans to look at reformulating products using more “climate-friendly ingredients” while moving to alternative packaging materials. On Thursday the company inaugurated a new packaging research institute in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Another is scaling up agriculture initiatives to absorb more carbon and build resilient communities. The company plans to strengthen programs with farmers to “restore land and limit greenhouse gas emissions.” This includes improved management of their dairy supply chain, according to the company. Other efforts entail replanting trees and enhancing biodiversity.
The third is using 100% renewable electricity in factories, warehouses, logistics, and offices. The company reports that 143 factories — one third of the total — already use 100% renewable electricity. Nestlé plans to keep increasing the use of energy from renewable sources. “This will enable suppliers to invest in new infrastructure such as wind and solar farms,” the company says.
Magdi Batato, executive vice president and head of operations at Nestlé, added that the company needs to work closely its suppliers to reach the 2050 target. “We are transforming our operations,” he said. “This will lead to a major shift in the way our ingredients are produced and sourced.”
Earlier this year Nestlé was one of the companies that signed a letter to outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to make a commitment that would bring UK emissions to net zero by 2050.