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Nestlé Waters Says Federal Government Cannot Be Counted on to Deliver a Robust National Recycling Program

Hill Auditorium at the University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, MI — Greetings from Day Two of the Net Impact Conference. The opening keynote just finished a little over a half an hour ago and I think perhaps the most notable news to come of it was Kim Jeffery, the CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, saying industry must lead on improving US recycling systems with multi-stakeholder engagement.

Before I outline Jeffery’s strategy, here’s who sat on the stage of the University’s stunning Hill Auditorium:

Opening Keynote — From Source to Blue Bin: Extending U.S. Beverage Producer Responsibility


Kim Jeffery, CEO of Nestlé Waters North America

William McDonough, Author of Cradle to Cradle will deliver this keynote address together. The conversation will be

Moderated by Marc Gunther, Contributing Editor, FORTUNE

Jeffery was discussing Nestlé Waters’ “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) initiative that essentially unites consumers, retailers and municipal governments to optimize PET recycling. EPR was established with significant input from Cradle to Cradle pioneer Bill McDonough who looked on approvingly as Jeffery described the program in greater detail.

Currently EPR is test launching in the province of Manitoba, Canada and is being 100% funded by private industry (I assume he means Nestlé Waters). Apparently the firm prices the Manitoba experiment at $0.02 per PET container of water, but believes the optimal price in the US should be $0.01/bottle.

Depending on the results in Manitoba, Nestlé Waters will begin rolling this out state by state, but not at the federal level where according to Jeffery, “The government uses beverage container redemption programs to close budget deficits.

Another interesting tidbit on PET: According to Nestlé Waters, recycled PET is valued at $0.29/pound, but given inadequate recyling in the US (Jeffery says about a 1/4 of the US  consumers recycle at home), there is a market in China for the PET.

Clearly, we need to work on closing this loop and the firm is working with Bill McDonough to this end.

Written by Lane Jost

A lifelong conservationist, angler, gardener and writer, Lane is a Corporate Responsibility strategy consultant based in Chicago, where he currently works a CR consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Prior to joining PwC, Lane was a global sustainability performance and stakeholder engagement specialist for Sodexo North America. He has experience in microfinance program evaluation at Grameen Foundation. A former President of the Net Impact Chapter at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Lane has a master's in International Development Economics from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at UCSD (IR/PS) and a bachelor's in history and international studies from Kenyon College. Prior to working in the sustainable business sphere, Lane spent six years as a communications and marketing professional focusing on arts and culture in New York City, where his work included the creation of the jazz website and serving as the publicist for the New York Philharmonic.


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