Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) is presenting its first “Golden Vulture” anti-award for the most pointless disposable plastic packaging of 2019. The product voted most pointless was Nestlé Deutschland AG’s Vittel mineral water, packaged in disposable plastic. Nestlé claims in response that the bottle is recyclable and will contain one hundred per cent recycled PET (rPET) by 2020, up from the current 35 per cent.
According to DUH, more than 20,000 consumers voted for the “Golden Vulture”. In a two-stage process, they first nominated what they considered to be the most pointless plastic packaging, and then chose the winner of the anti-award from six finalists. The choice was Nestlé’s small bottles for mineral water. The small 0.33 litre bottles are shrink wrapped in eight packs, which makes the waste of resources worse. “Nestlé has more than earned the Golden Vulture for Vittel disposable plastic bottles. The small quantity of water in a lot of packaging, the eight pack wrapped again in shrink film, and long transport routes from France to Germany, that’s ecological madness,” explains Barbara Metz, Deputy Federal Managing Director of DUH, who presented the prize on 10 September in front of Nestlé’s German headquarters in Frankfurt. She notes that disposable plastic bottles are harmful to the environment because they have to be newly manufactured for each filling process, which is energy and resource intensive. A further problem with Nestlé’s Vittel bottles is that the mineral water from France is transported around 920 kilometres to Germany.
Nestlé responds: Negative award as incentive
“Like any other PET bottle, the bottle they picked out is part of the deposit system, so it can be recycled,” says Marc Honold, Managing Director of Nestlé Waters Germany and Austria. “Even so, we see the Golden Vulture as an incentive, because we have a common goal with Deutsche Umwelthilfe in the search for better and more sustainable packaging. That’s why 35 per cent of the bottle is already made of recycled plastic. From 2020, we will convert both the 0.33 litre and 0.5 litre bottles to 100 per cent recycled plastic, and we’re already making the change this year for the 0.75-litre bottle,” Honold continues. The outer packaging also consists of 50 per cent recycled plastic. “We welcome critical and constructive support from NGOs such as Deutsche Umwelthilfe in this process of improvement,” Honold affirms.
With its practical size, he continues, the selected 0.33-litre Vittel bottle is particularly popular with parents, who give them to their children, as it fits in a gym bag or school bag. Almost every other person in Germany buys still water regularly or occasionally in a 0.33 litre bottle, and in the past two years demand for this product has risen by over 60 per cent. PET bottles are lighter than glass bottles, which makes transport more environmentally friendly. To reduce emissions, Nestlé Waters transports the water by rail part of the way from France to Germany. Nestlé to improve packaging for all its products. By 2025, 100 per cent of packaging worldwide is planned to be reusable or recyclable. At the same time, Nestlé wants to use more recycled material. Today, 97 per cent of the packaging used by Nestlé in Germany is recyclable.