In August 2020 Ethical Consumer sent Nestle a questionnaire requesting information about its environmental reporting and practices. No response was received. In October 2020 the company’s website, ‘Nestle Responsible Sourcing Standard’ report (July 2018) and 'Creating Shared Value Progress Report 2019' were searched for relevant information.

The Creating Shared Value Progress Report 2019 provided performance data for water, renewable energy use, raw material use, energy consumption, and waste. It also mentioned biodiversity and linked to a webpage on 'Protecting natural capital'.

The Nestle Responsible Sourcing Standard provided further details, including a commitment to decreasing the use of plastics and increasing the recyclability of packaging material supplied.

However the company did not appear to discuss the need to reduce chemical use, such as pesticides or fertilisers, in its agricultural supply chains. Ethical Consumer expected this from a large food producing company.

Several environmental reduction targets for 2020 were presented, titled Objectives, including:

"Reduce GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) per tonne of product in every product category to achieve an overall reduction of 35% in our manufacturing operations versus 2010."
"By 2020: Reduce direct water withdrawals per tonne of product in every product category to achieve an overall reduction of 35% since 2010."
"By 2020: Reduce GHG emissions by 10% in our distribution operations versus 2014."
"By 2020: Continue to systematically analyze and optimize our packaging portfolio, avoiding the use of at least 140 000 tonnes from 2015 to 2020"

The report was independently assured by Bureau Veritas.

As Nestle had an independently verified report dated within the past 2 years that did not show a reasonable understanding of its key environmental impacts, but did present more than two future environmental reduction targets, the company received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its Environmental Reporting.

Reference: (2020)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Nestle's website, looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:

1. For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.

For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding it’s climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.

2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and,

3. to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).

4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.

The company was considered to meet part 1 as it stated in its Shared Value Report that "We are speeding up the transformation of our product portfolio to include more climate-friendly ingredients. We are also focusing on scaling up renewable energy use and developing agricultural initiatives for carbon storage, reforestation and biodiversity protection." It was not involved in the tar sands, oil or aviation industries.
It was not considered to meet part 2 as it did not appear to report its Scope 1 and 2 emissions on its own website or in the above report. It therefore received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for Climate Change.


2019 annual report (27 October 2020)

According to the Nestlé's Creating Shared Value Report 2019, viewed by Ethical Consumer in October 2020, the company was in the process of phasing out HFC refrigerants with high global warming potential from its industrial refrigeration systems. The target for 2020 for industrial refrigeration was only to 'expand the use of natural refrigerants'. It did not give a phase out date.

In October 2014 the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released its 6th and final report called Chilling Facts: Closing the doors on HFCs. The report recommended that retailers should:
1. Commit to installing only HFC-free systems in all new stores and refurbishments, across entire estate, including their food transport systems and international operations;
2. Commit to a total phase-out by 2025 at the latest (the UK Government will ban the use HFCs with the GWP above 2500 from 2020).
3. Fit doors on all chiller and freezer units as standard
4. Remove any HFCs with Global Warming Potential above 2,500 in existing equipment as a matter of priority.

As it was still using some HFC refrigerants the company lost half a mark under Climate Change.

Reference: (2020)

In a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), 13 major fast food, retail, and food manufacturing companies in the USA were assessed to see if they could be doing more to prevent deforestation in South America. The report - Cattle, Cleared Forests, and Climate Change - was published in September 2016.

Tropical forests, notably those in South America, were being cleared for use in beef production. Deforestation driven by beef production was more than twice that of the next three largest drivers combined. South American ranchers cleared tropical forests, grasslands and woodlands to create pastures - releasing heat-trapping gases, destroying wildlife habitats, and encroaching on the homes of indigenous peoples.

The 13 companies all sourced beef from South America. This meant they could help stop deforestation by working with their suppliers to change practices, and ensure that beef production was not causing deforestation.

UCS found that nine of the 13 companies had no public policies or plans detailing how they intended to eliminate deforestation associated with their beef purchases, and that the policies and practices of the remaining four companies had major gaps - meaning they could have profited from selling “deforestation-risk beef”.

Companies were assessed against a number of criteria and given an overall mark out of 100. The report rated each company's deforestation-free beef policies and practices as “Strong”, “Limited” or “Very Limited” - in practice no company was assessed as “Strong”.

Nestlé was ranked fifth of the 13 companies with 23 out of 100. This score put it in the bottom (“Very Limited”) band.

The company lost half a mark under Climate Change and half a mark under Habitats & Resources.


Cattle, Cleared Forests, and Climate Change: Scoring Global Companies on their Deforestation-Free Be

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed an article dated 23 October 2019 on the Greenpeace website, titled "Coke, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are top plastic polluters yet again".

This stated "Coke, Nestlé, and PepsiCo have topped the list of world’s worst plastic polluters for the second year running, a global survey by Break Free From Plastic has found [...] when it comes to their policies on plastics it’s clear that these huge global brands are planning to fail. They’ll continue to be the worst polluters for years to come unless they radically change their policies."

The company lost half a mark under Pollution & Toxics for secondary criticism.

Reference: (23 October 2019)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer searched the L'Oréal corporate website for the company's policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

Some forms or uses of these chemicals were banned or restricted in the EU or the USA.
Triclosan is an antibacterial and a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer. They 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.

The 'Inside our products' section of L'Oréal's website included pages on parabens, triclosan and phthalates. It was stated therein that the company used some parabens in its products, but did not use triclosan or phthaltes in any of its products. This information appeared to apply to all the companies brands which were listed on the site.

As two of the three chemicals were not used, L'Oréal received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its pollution and toxics policy.

Reference: (9 November 2020)

In October 2020, Ethical Consumer searched L’Oreal’s website for the company's policy on the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers. No information was found. Ethical Consumer also viewed a news article dated 10th February 2017 which stated that L’Oreal had eliminated microbeads from its wash off products.

According to Beat the Microbead, there are more than 500 known microplastics ingredients 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.

A recent report by Code Check found that non-biodegradable liquid polymers were also prevalent across a wide range of cosmetic products. Like microplastics, these materials degrade with a similar difficulty in the environment and may cause similar harm.

In 2018, the UK government banned the use of microbeads in toothpastes, shower gels and facial scrubs. However, some products classified as “leave on” were not subject to the ban, this would include lotions, sun cream and makeup, as well as abrasive cleaning products. This ban did not extend to non-biodegradable liquid polymers.

Given that the company’s policy did not cover all of its products and did not address the issue of non-biodegradable liquid polymers, the company lost half a mark under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference: (March 2020)

In October 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Nescafé's websites; and which both supplied and sold coffee machines which contained components likely to include the minerals tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, collectively referred to as “conflict minerals”. However no conflict mineral sourcing policy could be found.

Particular concern had been raised over the sourcing of these minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its surrounding countries due to the renowned human rights abuses in the extractive industries in this area with profits being used to fund armed groups. The trade was also said to have dire environmental consequences generating a massive amount of waste containing toxic and radioactive substances, polluting the environment, water supplies and affecting the local communities.

Under the US Dodd-Frank Act any company that "manufactures or contracts to manufacture products containing any 3TG that is necessary to the functionality or production of such products, to conduct a “country of origin” inquiry reasonably designed to determine whether the 3TG in such 3TG Products originated from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or adjoining countries."

While Nestle was not required by US law to report on conflict minerals campaign group Enough stated that all companies "should have been taking proactive action to trace, audit, and certify their supply chains to ensure that the effects of the above problems were limited."

Due to the fact the company had no policy it received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its policy on conflict minerals and lost a whole mark under the Habitats and Resources and Human Rights categories.

Reference: (2020)

In October 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the website for the not-for-profit organisation The Council of Canadians.

It stated:
"Nestlé has taken billions of litres of pure, clean and vital water from underground aquifers in Canada and sold them for huge profit. Meanwhile, communities are struggling with severe droughts, dwindling water supply for community uses, and plastic bottles clogging up our landfills and waterways. Nestlé’s departure from Canada is a direct result of communities coming together to say no to its water grabs.

"But we’re not done, yet. Although Nestlé Waters has announced its departure from the Canadian market, it is selling its facilities and wells to another major water taking company, Ice River Springs. The fight against corporate water takings for profit is not over. With your help, we will build upon the grassroots opposition to Nestlé to resist Ice River Springs, push back on all efforts to commodify water for profit, demand better regulations and support community-led efforts across Canada to protect water.

"Whether we’re fighting Nestlé, Ice River Springs or any other corporation, the most powerful tool against the commodification of water is an informed and organized network of people committed to safeguarding water as a public trust and shared commons.

"Yes! I pledge to always protect water and say no to bottled water"

Ethical Consumer also viewed the Nestlé Canada corporate website which stated in a press release from September 2 2020, entitled "Nestlé Canada announces sale to Ice River Spring concludes", that the sale of its water operations in Canada had fallen through.

"Today Nestlé Canada and Ice River Springs are sharing that they were not able to work through the Competition Bureau’s regulatory approval process within Nestlé’s set timeframe to allow for a successful sale of the Nestlé Pure Life business in Canada to Ice River Springs.

"This proposed agreement to sell the Nestlé Pure Life business in Canada was announced on July 2 was always contingent upon efficient regulatory approval and if not achieved there was the potential that it would continue to be part the North American review announced on June 11th. The review will explore strategic options, including a possible sale, for the Nestlé Waters business in the U.S. and Canada.

"The North American strategic review is expected to conclude by early 2021 and will offer the Canadian business the opportunity for sustained, long-term, profitable growth."

The company was therefore considered to be still involved in the water extraction activities in Canada for which it had been criticised.

The company lost half a mark under Habitats and Resources.


Nestlé Boycott Pledge (25 January 2019)

In October 2020 Ethical Consumer downloaded Nestle's 2019 Annual Communication on Progress (ACOP) to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) from the RSPO's website and looked at the information provided on the company group's Palm Oil page on its website.

48% of the total palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil derivatives used by the company was reported in its ACOP to be certified by the RSPO and 22% of this was through a segregated mechanism. The company picked up additional points for disclosing volumes, having group wide disclosure, and additional positive initiatives, as it listed suppliers excluded for failing to effectively manage identified risks or meet agreed deadlines, as well as other positive initiatives in its supply chain. It also picked up half points as it disclosed suppliers and mapped its supply chain to the mill for 93% of its total volume of palm oil sourced annually. Overall it received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its palm oil policy and practice and lost half a mark under Palm Oil


Generic (2020)

In June 2019, Ethical Consumer viewed a petition on the Sum of Us website titled 'It's time Procter & Gamble tackles palm oil exploitation in its supply chain'. It stated:

"Procter & Gamble’s villainous palm oil partner FGV, has been sanctioned over multiple human rights violations, including trafficking and forced labour.

"FGV or “Felda” has been found guilty of human trafficking and forced labour on its plantations...

"Big brands like Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestlé, and Mars brag about their sustainable palm oil policies, while continuing to profit from FGV’s forced labour."

The company lost half a mark under Palm Oil.


It's time Procter & Gamble tackles palm oil exploitation in its supply chain (17 June 2019)

In March 2018 Greenpeace International released its report called “Moment of truth time for brands to come clean about their links to forest destruction for palm oil”.

The report was based on the fact that in 2010 members of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) pledged to do their bit to protect forests and limit climate change, with a clear commitment to clean up global commodity supply chains by 2020.

However Greenpeace stated “with less than two years to go until 2020, deforestation to produce commodities such as palm oil shows no sign of slowing down. Corporate commitments and policies have proliferated, but companies have largely failed to implement them. As a result, consumer brands, including those with ‘no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation’ (NDPE) policies, still use palm oil from producers that destroy rainforests, drain carbon-rich peatland and violate the human rights of workers and local communities – making their customers complicit in forest destruction, climate change and human rights abuses.”

At the start of 2018, Greenpeace International challenged 16 leading members of the CGF to demonstrate their progress towards a clean palm oil supply chain. It called on them to disclose publicly the mills that produced their palm oil, and the names of the producer groups that controlled those mills. Eight of the global brands responded to Greenpeace’s challenge and published data revealing where and from whom they ultimately buy palm oil. It said “Transparency and accountability – including the publication of explicit details about who produces the palm oil that companies use – create the conditions for sectoral reform.”

Nestlé SA was one of the eight companies which had responded to Greenpeace’s challenge and had provided data on its traders / suppliers and the names of the mills and producers.

Yet in 2017, Greenpeace assessed the actions palm oil traders were taking to ensure that they were not buying from producers that were destroying rainforests, draining peatlands or exploiting workers and local communities. It said “Although most traders had published NDPE policies, there were serious problems with their implementation: inconsistent standards, questionable enforcement and non-existent deadlines. Not only was the palm oil industry not working to the 2020 deadline set by brands, it did not even have a common timeline for delivering a palm oil supply free from deforestation and other social and environmental harms.”

Nestlé SA lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer's palm oil category due to the fact Greenpeace concluded “none of the major traders can yet be relied upon to supply brands with palm oil that meets their NDPE standards; indeed, they are all known to source from forest destroyers... It follows that by sourcing from these traders brands are buying palm oil contaminated by forest destruction.”


Moment of truth time for brands to come clean about their links to forest destruction for palm oil (