Nestlé is committed to transitioning to 100% renewable electricity, to help deliver on its science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of product by 35% in our manufacturing operations by 2020 based on 2010 levels. Here, Pascal Gréverath, Nestlé Head of Environmental Sustainability, talks about the drivers and the company’s progress.

Why is Nestlé committed to being ‘100% renewable’?

“Climate change is the greatest challenge our world faces – and a huge risk to the long-term supply of safe, high quality ingredients for Nestlé’s products as crop yields fall and production areas shift.

“We take a holistic approach in tackling climate change: our overall climate strategy aims to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. We are determined to play our part in taking climate action by improving energy efficiency, switching to cleaner fuels and purchasing renewable electricity. It’s essential for the long-term survival of our business; not just a short-term payback.

“In 2014, we joined RE100 and committed to procure 100% of our electricity from renewable sources within the shortest practical timescale, as this is fully aligned with our own explicit commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

How did you decide on your 100% goal?

“We have set ourselves a target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of product in our manufacturing operations by 35% by 2020, based on 2010 levels. Expanding our use of renewables is helping us to achieve this, and going for a 100% renewable electricity goal allowed us to join the RE100 campaign.”

What are your achievements so far?

“From April this year all our grid supplied electricity in the UK and Ireland is being sourced from renewables.

“Nestlé Mexico is currently meeting 80% of its electricity needs through wind power – we’re one of the first food companies in Mexico to obtain nearly all our electricity from renewables. Our Coffee-mate factory in Mexico has invested a total of US$ 250,000 in reducing carbon emissions, including the installation of solar panels.

“In 2015, Nestlé Spain sourced about 125,000 MWh of electricity from renewable power sources, supported by green energy certificates. This enabled us to avoid more than 20,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions compared with electricity produced from fossil fuels.

“In that same period, Nestlé Italy purchased more than 60,000 MWh of renewable electricity. This cost an extra US$24,000, but about 11,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions were avoided as a result.

“Nestlé Brazil also started to procure renewable electricity for 14 of its sites in 2015 through Power Purchase Agreements, covering almost 50% of our electricity consumption there and cutting emissions by more than 20,000 tonnes of CO2e. The electricity comes from a variety of sources including small hydropower plants, solar, biomass and wind farms. More sites will switch to renewable electricity during 2016.

“We’ve also got two wind turbines installed at one of our Nestlé Waters bottling plants in California that supply 30% of the sites’ electricity, and 1,000MWh of solar power is produced annually at our various manufacturing facilities and offices in the US.”

What challenges and opportunities are you encountering?

“Renewable electricity market conditions can be very different from one country to another. In some countries we can see that there is not yet an adequate supply in the market and more government support is sometimes needed. In December 2015 we joined with other companies in the UK to send an open letter, promoted by Greenpeace, to the UK Government on the need for a stable and supportive regime on renewable electricity.

“We also face challenges accessing cost-effective projects on favourable terms even when these projects exist. In October 2015 Nestlé USA signed the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles, which set criteria for electricity suppliers in order to address the challenges of large renewable electricity buyers in the US.

“Nestlé Waters North America is a founding member of the Business Renewables Center, a project of the Rocky Mountain Institute aimed at accelerating corporate renewable electricity procurement through a project marketplace and knowledge-sharing on renewable electricity procurement.

“The WBCSD Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative is partnering with RE100 to work on addressing the barriers that businesses face when contracting renewable energy via Power Purchase Agreements, and as member of both WBCSD and RE100, Nestlé is participating in this project.

“Finally, we will continue to actively advocate in favour of renewable electricity through industry associations such as the Consumer Goods Forum, as well as at events and conferences.”

How will you switch to renewable electricity going forward?

“There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ method and the solutions will depend very much on the opportunities available locally. We anticipate having a combination of Power Purchase Agreements and certificate-based green electricity products.”

Why do you think it is important for companies to help increase demand for renewable electricity?

“To develop a cleaner energy system and help tackle climate change, companies need to demonstrate to each other that renewables bring business benefits. We’re leveraging our influence to help drive this energy transition. Our endorsement helps RE100 recruit more companies to grow further market demand for renewable electricity.

“Importantly, the endorsement of this initiative by Nestlé and other large companies sends a strong market signal that contributes to accelerating the growth of renewable electricity markets well beyond our own needs.”

Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?

“RE100 has been instrumental in promoting renewables among corporate users. In particular, it provides a level-playing field for companies to engage thanks to technical and claims criteria, knowledge-sharing through webinars and capacity-building workshops, and opportunities to engage with relevant platforms.

“This technical guidance and the activities of RE100 help us to operationalize our commitment within Nestlé. For instance, we have aligned our internal criteria to procure renewable electricity with the ones defined by RE100, and we have provided formal directions to our markets on that basis. We also participate in the RE100 China and India programs, two countries that are key not only for Nestlé but also for the world to stay on the 2°C pathway.”

What else is Nestlé doing to help drive towards a low carbon economy?

“Over the last few years we have steadily increased the share of renewable energy in our total on-site energy consumption, from 12% in 2012 to more than 15% in 2015. At the scale of Nestlé, this is an increase in renewable energy usage by more than 900 GWh or more than 70,000 tons of oil equivalent in a year.

“Nestlé’s worldwide operations now include 22 factories that are using spent coffee grounds as a renewable fuel, and 20 factories using wood chips. In France for example, a fourth Nestlé factory is being converted to use wood as a renewable alternative to fossil fuel. With three factories already obtaining between 88% and 94% of their energy needs from wood chips, our Nescafé factory in Dieppe will burn spent coffee grounds and wood chips from early 2016. The use of wood boilers has reduced direct CO2 emissions by Nestlé France by more than 40% since 2010.

“In Switzerland, Nestlé Waters has been collaborating with a Swiss company specializing in renewable energy systems to construct an agricultural biogas facility to provide renewable energy for our Henniez bottling plant. The plant, due to open in 2016, will process 28,000 tonnes of manure a year from local farms, as well as coffee grounds from Nescafé and Nespresso production and recycling sites across Switzerland, and it will generate enough electricity to power more than 1,000 households. This electricity will be fed into the Swiss national grid, while the heat will be piped to the bottling plant.” 

Last updated: June 2016