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A Focal Point interview with Walter Peterson
You can save now by registering online for the seventh annual Focal Point conference, set for October 24 at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Early bird registration is $300. 

Walter Peterson is manager, packaging innovation and sustainability, at Nestlé USA. At Focal Point 2017, he'll be presenting "A Great Sustainability Story: The Future of Paper-Based Food Packaging." Ahead of the conference, we asked Peterson to comment on some of the approaches and initiatives in sustainable packaging at Nestlé USA.

WIST: As the world's largest food and beverages company, Nestlé has some great sustainability commitments around caring for water, acting on climate change and safeguarding the environment. Please can you describe the impetus for these initiatives and how you go about continuously improving your efforts in these areas?  
Walter Peterson

Walter Peterson: At Nestlé we take a holistic approach to sustainability. That is, we work at the "street level" every day to make improvements in our environmental footprint. Such programs as weight reduction in packaging materials, packaging elimination and package end of life definition are just some of the programs we undertake. We publicly state that we will "improve the environmental performance of our packaging." I urge you to visit and download our latest "Nestle in Society, Creating Shared Value" report that outlines our commitments as a company worldwide.
WIST: Without giving away too much of the content of your presentation, what do you suggest would be the single biggest performance leap that would advance the use of paper-based food packaging in your packaged food and beverage portfolio?  
Walter Peterson: Nestlé USA is more than 60 percent fiber-based packaging. This does not include fiber used in composite packaging structures. Our biggest challenge for the future will be to continue to explore fiber-based packaging that will lend itself to the new retail environment, which includes e-commerce, home delivery, small retail grocery like Lidl and Aldi, dollar store channels and club. All of these show clear growth while traditional grocery continues to struggle.
WIST: Innovation in food packaging is seen as an opportunity to help manage and mitigate food waste. What is Nestlé doing to help reduce food waste both in its production facilities and by the consumers of its products?  
Walter Peterson: At Nestlé we take food waste very seriously. This year we engaged with the Rockefeller Foundation to help define what our industry needs to do to reduce food waste in the future. For instance, our manufacturing plants and Center of Excellence in Solon, Ohio, have been working diligently to reduce the number of different specifications for food coming into our plants which will result in less food wasted in manufacturing. From a packaging perspective, we already supply a large portion of our portfolio in single serve packaging. We make sure that if we do provide the consumer a multi-serve opportunity that the consumer has the ability to reclose the container enhancing storage for future consumption.

Attend Focal Point 2017 to hear:  
  • Brand-owner perspectives on paper-based food packaging and serviceware items
  • Insights from leading converting companies about future needs and trends in paper and paperboard packaging
  • Innovations targeting superior performance 
  • End-of-life management practices that improve environmental footprints
  • Regulatory insights on paper-based food packaging and serviceware

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