Nestlé has today (Thursday December 3) announced its global roadmap to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5° celsius.

As a signatory of the UN ‘Business Ambition for 1.5° celsius pledge, Nestlé is one of the first companies to share its time-bound plan to halve the company’s emissions by 2030, and to achieve net zero by 2050.

To achieve its aim, Nestlé will accelerate initiatives focusing on supporting farmers and suppliers to advance regenerative agriculture; planting hundreds of millions of trees within the next 10 years; completing the company’s transition to 100% renewable electricity globally by 2025 and increasing the number of ‘carbon neutral’ brands.

Nestlé Chairman Paul Bulcke said: “The board recognises the strategic importance of taking decisive measures to address climate change. It supports accelerating and scaling up our work to ensure the long-term success of the company and to contribute to a sustainable future for generations to come.”

Review of operations

The roadmap is the result of a complete review of Nestlé’s business and operations to understand the challenge in achieving net zero and to determine the actions needed to address it.

The company was responsible for 92 million tonnes of GHG in 2018, which will serve as the baseline for measuring progress.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nestlé Mark Schneider said: "Tackling climate change can’t wait and neither can we. It is imperative to the long-term success of our business.

We have a unique opportunity to address climate change, as we operate in nearly every country in the world and have the size, scale and reach to make a difference.

"We will work together with farmers, industry partners, governments, non-governmental organisations and our consumers to reduce our environmental footprint.”

Stefano Agostini, CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland added: “'Climate change is the challenge of our time and urgent action is needed now. We have made good progress in the UK and Ireland but there is much more to be done and yet we cannot do it alone.

"We will continue to work with governments, farmers and other cross-sector partners to look for new and innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint by transforming our products; scaling-up initiatives in agriculture; and to build beyond our current 100% renewable grid-supplied electricity across our operations.”

Reduction in GHG in UK and Ireland

Nestlé UK and Ireland says it has achieved a 61% reduction in GHG per tonne of product since 2007 as a result of a combination of energy efficiency improvements and the transition to renewable energy.

In 2016, Nestlé UK and Ireland factories and offices transitioned to 100% renewable grid-supplied electricity by investing in the development of new wind power capacity.

The company has also invested in renewable technologies to generate its own green energy, such as solar panels, hydropower, anaerobic digestion and biomass.

To achieve its 2050 net zero ambition, Nestlé’s work spans three main areas:

  • Regenerative agriculture;
  • Operations;
  • Product portfolio.

The company is working with over 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers globally to support them in implementing regenerative agriculture practices. It says that such practices improve soil health and maintain and restore diverse ecosystems.

In return, Nestlé is offering to reward farmers by purchasing their goods at a premium; buying bigger quantities and co-investing in necessary capital expenditures. Nestlé expects to source over 14 million tonnes of its ingredients through regenerative agriculture by 2030, boosting demand for such goods.

In its operations, Nestlé expects to complete the transition of its 800 sites in the 187 countries where it operates to 100% renewable electricity within the next five years.

The company is switching its global fleet of vehicles to lower emission options and will reduce and offset business travel by 2022. It is also implementing water protection and regeneration measures and tackling food waste in its operations.

Product portfolio

Within its product portfolio, Nestlé is continuously expanding its offering of plant-based food and beverages and is reformulating products to make them more environmentally-friendly.

It is increasing the number of 'carbon neutral' brands it offers to give consumers the opportunity to contribute to the fight against climate change.

The company has said that Garden Gourmet plant-based food as well as Garden of Life supplements will achieve carbon neutrality by 2022; Sweet Earth plant-based food, among other brands, will do the same by 2025.

Executive vice president and head of operations Magdi Batato said: “With nearly two-thirds of our emissions coming from agriculture, it is clear that regenerative agriculture and reforestation are the focal points of our path to net zero.

These efforts will reduce emissions and improve biodiversity at scale. We will also continue to eliminate emissions from our operations and make improvements in our product portfolio. We have our work cut out for us and we are committed to delivering.

The company expects to invest a total of €2.9 billion over the next five years to accelerate its work, including €1.1 billion to spark regenerative agriculture across the company's supply chain.

The investments will be financed primarily through operational and structural efficiencies.