Designing products and packaging that will have less environmental impact is a goal that Dr Urs Schenker, Nestlé Life-Cycle Assessment Specialist, announced at the 7th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in the Agri-Food Sector.
At the event held in Italy, last month, Dr Schenker, Nestlé Research Center, presented Nestlé’s life cycle approach to an audience of international experts in life cycle assessment. Nestlé was also a sponsor of the event.
Nestlé’s approach is a systematic way of assessing the impact that our products have on the environment - from ingredient sourcing, to processing and manufacturing, consumer use of the product and its packaging. In his presentation Dr Schenker described how Nestlé is using life cycle assessment and ecodesign tools. One of these tools is the Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool (PIQET), which was developed by the Sustainable Packaging Alliance
"Compared with conventional life cycle assessment methods, our simplified ecodesign tools provide us with data much earlier on in the product development process. This means that we can take more effective steps in designing products and packaging in a way that will have less environmental impact." said Schenker.
The PIQET tool is used to evaluate the environmental impact of the entire life cycle of packaging systems - from raw material extraction to packaging material manufacturing, converting, filling, distribution and finally after use by the consumer.
Based on life cycle assessment studies done by external consultants, Nestlé has found that food preparation is also an important contributor to the environmental impact of a food product, and the environmental impact of the food ingredients is generally even higher than that of the packaging.
Nestlé is now developing a new ecodesign tool that will go beyond packaging and allow product designers to assess the environmental impacts of the entire food product, including agricultural ingredients, food processing, packaging, distribution, consumer use and disposal.
Examples of ways that Nestlé’s approach has already provided successful results:
- NaturNes babyfood: Life cycle assessment studies have shown that the new packaging has a reduced impact on the environment. Read more
- Nespresso and Nescafé Dolce Gusto coffee machines have been improved to reduce energy consumption as a result of life cycle assessment studies. Read the full report
Nestlé is also collaborating in broader industry initiatives that are looking at how environmental impacts should be calculated. For example Nestlé participates in the EU Food Sustainable Production and Consumption Roundtable that aims at establishing science-based, coherent approaches to sustainable consumption and production in the food sector as well as improving communication along the food chain to help consumers make informed choices.