Nestlé SA - Pollution & Toxics

Nestlé SA  >  Pollution & Toxics

Use of global warming refrigerants

According to the Nestle in Society 2017 Report, viewed by Ethical Consumer in April 2018, the company was in the process of phasing out HFC refrigerants with high global warming potential from its industrial operations including refrigerated trucks. However, at the time of writing, global warming refrigerants were still being used in industrial regfrigeration in factories. Nestlé had targets to only use natural refrigerants in its ice cream chests and cold drinks dispensers but the target for 2020 for industrial refrigeration was only to 'expand the use of natural refrigerants'. The company therefore lost half a mark under Pollution and Toxics.

Nestlé SA Corporate Communications:Nestle in Society report 2017 (17 April 2018)

Worst Ethical Consumer rating for toxics policy

In April 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the L'Oreal website for the company's policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates. Some forms or uses of these chemicals are banned or restricted in the EU or the USA. Triclosan is an antibacterial and is a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer and are used as preservatives. Phthalates, usually DEP or DBP, are used in fragrances and are endocrine disruptors. A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use. Although there were some vague statements on the subject, no clear policy to phase out these chemicals could be found. Therefore L'Oreal received Ethical Consumer's worst rating on toxics.

L'Oréal Corporate Communications:L'Oreal website (17 April 2018)

Criticised over microbeads

In April 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed the International Campaign Against Microplastic website which listed several of L'Oreal's products as containing microbeads. L’Oreal was also investigated by Greenpeace East Asia (GEA) in a report dated July 2016, which ranked the companies on their commitment to tackling the issue of microbeads in their products. Microbeads are a type of microplastic that can be found in our personal care products such as toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels. They are tiny plastic particles that are added for their exfoliating properties, but sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes only. The four main criteria used by GEA were: 1. Commitment & information transparency: Did the company have commitment on microbeads? Was it publicly available and easy to access? 2. Definition: How did the company define microbeads for their commitment? 3. Deadline: When would the company meet their commitment? 4. Application scope: Did the commitment cover all products in all markets? Each company was scored by GEA based on their responses to a Greenpeace survey, as well as any publicly available information. Each criterion was weighted equally and scored out of 100, to give a final maximum score out of 400. L’Oreal had made a website commitment to ending use of microbeads by the end of 2017, defining them: “Microbeads of polyethylene (i.e. microplastics) are small particles that are used as scrubs in three types of cosmetics products (exfoliants, cleansers, shower gel)”, and separately in a survey: “Plastic microbead: Any intentionally added, 5 mm or less, water insoluble, solid plastic particle used to exfoliate or cleanse in rinse-off personal care products.” Alternatives were given as “association of perlite (mineral based) & powder of fruit kernels or any other natural polymer.” Scoring 300 out of 400 ranking 4th in the report, L’Oreal’s commitment was considered to have fallen short of an acceptable standard. Its definition of microbeads was limited and therefore too narrow because: 1. It applied to microbeads where their function was only to exfoliate or cleanse, rather than for all functions; 2. It was limited to just one type of plastic – polyethylene – rather than all plastic types; 3. It was limited to just certain kinds of product - exfoliants, cleansers and shower gels - rather than all products. As a result of using micobeads in its products, L'Oreal was marked down in the Pollution and Toxics category.

Greenpeace East Asia:Global Cosmetics & Personal Care Companies' Microbead Commitment Ranking (July 2016)

Rated on its water management policies

In May 2015 Ceres produced a report called “Feeding ourselves thirsty: How the food sector is managing global water risks. A benchmark report for investors.” According to the report producing food was the most water-intensive business on earth. It stated that “seventy percent of the world’s freshwater was used to irrigate crops and raise animals” and “one-third of total food production was in areas of high or extremely high water stress, or competition.” It went on to state that the run-off of fertilizers from farm fields was one of the most common causes of “water pollution worldwide, causing dead zones, harming fisheries, affecting human health and raising water treatment costs.” The report analysed food sector companies against actions taken in four categories of water risk management, using indicators and scoring drawn largely from the Ceres Aqua Gauge: 1) governance and management: board members with oversight of water-related issues and had a water strategy 2) direct operations: reports data on water use and wastewater discharge for direct operations; assesses risks; sets standards and goals on water water use, wastewater and impacts on watersheds 3) manufacturing supply chain: assesses water risks facing manufacturing suppliers; had policies for suppliers to improve water management; incentivises manufacturing suppliers to strengthen practices 4) agricultural supply chain: assess water-related risks facing key agricultural inputs and sourcing regions; had policies for suppliers to improve water management and report their water use and pollution impacts; incentivises manufacturing suppliers to strengthen practices Companies were scored on a 0-100 point scale, using publicly available information from company financial statements, corporate sustainability reports and 2014 CDP water survey responses. Nestlé received the second highest overall mark in the packaged foods sector with a score of 64. It scored the following in each section: Governance and Management – 14/25 Direct Operations – 25/30 Manufacturing Supply Chain – 11/20 Agricultural Supply Chain – 14/25 Companies which scored 20 or under in agricultural supply chain lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer's pollution and toxics category due to the fact “erosion of topsoil and associated fertilizer run-off, both chemical and manure, is the most significant source of agricultural water pollution.”

Ceres:Feeding ourselves thirsty: How the food sector is managing global water risks. (May 2015)

Dangerous levels of lead found in noodles

In June 2015 Ethical Consumer viewed an article listed on the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, dated 31st May. It stated: 'Indian food-safety inspectors had filed a criminal complaint against Nestlé India Ltd. after finding dangerous levels of lead in a batch of Maggi 2-Minute Noodles sold in the found seven-times the permissible level of lead in a routine test of two dozen noodle packets...'.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:Criminal complaint accuses Nestlé India of high lead levels in Maggi noodles (19 June 2015)