Climate change leadership


Climate change leadership

What is the issue?

Man-made climate change is the single greatest environmental challenge of our generation. Climate change is caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which are released mainly by burning fossil fuels. In a world of rising populations and increasing urbanisation, nations and companies must radically scale back their dependence on carbon-intensive forms of energy and transport if we are to avoid dangerous and irreversible levels of climate change.

banner image

Why is it important?

Globally, the food sector is one of the business sectors most affected by climate change. An unstable climate is a major threat to agricultural production and affects our ability to source the natural ingredients we need. Our supply chain includes many businesses in areas of the world that are most exposed to climate change. We therefore see climate change as a direct threat to the sustainability of our business.

Nestlé’s commitments to reduce its carbon emissions and increasingly invest in renewable energy are important not only in their own right but also through the signals they send to other businesses, policymakers and the general public.
Nick Molho – Executive Director, Aldersgate Group


Energy and emissions objectives

Greenhouse gas
  • Achieved
  • By 2015 – reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% (2006 baseline year)
  • In progress
  • By 2020 – reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (2006 baseline year)
Renewable energy
  • Achieved
  • By 2015 – Achieve 10% renewable energy use across all sites (2006 baseline year)
  • In progress
  • By 2020 – Achieve 20% renewable energy use across all sites (2006 baseline year)
Investing in low-carbon technologies
  • Achieved
  • By 2015 – Transition towards a low-carbon and renewable energy site at Fawdon (2006 baseline year)
Climate change adaptation
  • Achieved
  • By 2014 – Develop comprehensive climate change adaptation plans for all sites (2006 baseline year)

Transport and distribution

  • Not yet achieved
  • By 2015 – Reduce inbound supplier vehicles by 10% (2006 baseline year)

Whilst we achieved our goal of a 10% reduction in inbound supplier distance travelled, the reduction in the number of inbound supplier vehicles was not calculated.

  • Not yet achieved
  • By 2015 – Switch 15% of road transportation to rail (2006 baseline year)
  • By 2015 – Support the Freight Transport Association’s target, which is to reduce CO2 by 8% (2006 baseline year)

Although we achieved our 8% reduction target in 2012, we have gone backwards since then due to a small increase in empty running and lower vehicle fill.


Helping to avoid dangerous and irreversible levels of climate change.


Reducing energy costs and ensuring the agricultural industry can continue to supply us with the ingredients we need.

banner image

What are we doing about it?

We believe that business can and must be part of the solution to climate change. Our ambition is to be a leader in this area. At a global level, Nestlé has signed up to RE100, a worldwide initiative bringing together influential businesses committed to 100% renewable power. This commitment is being rolled-out across all markets, and our UK renewable energy objectives are linked to this.

Alongside investing in renewable energy, we are working hard to minimise our climate impacts in other ways – for example, by switching to cleaner fuels and optimising our transport and distribution networks.

To prepare for a more uncertain climate future, we are putting in place climate change adaptation measures throughout our operations, and we are working with farmers and other businesses in our supply chain to help them do the same. Through our labelling which includes indicators for recyclability, awareness-raising campaigns and other initiatives, we are helping our consumers improve their energy-efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints.

Investing in renewable energy for a low-carbon future

As a business, we are committed to working towards a low-carbon future. As part of this we have been, and continue to work on, reducing our CO2 emissions across our business operations, year-on-year, and we report on this performance as part of our disclosure in CDP.


We are reducing our CO2 emissions in a number ways, one of which is through investing heavily in renewable energy technologies, such as solar and wind power.

As a signatory to RE100, Nestlé has committed to using 100% renewable energy across all our operations. In the UK, we have made a separate commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020.

To help us achieve these goals and make the transition to becoming a low-carbon business, Nestlé UK & Ireland made several major investments in renewable energy technologies in 2015, focusing on our Fawdon factory as a test site.

Solar panels  

Solar panel installation

During the past year we've piloted a number of groundbreaking micro-renewable energy projects at Fawdon. These include investing over £700,000 to complete a half-megawatt size solar panel installation – the biggest of its kind in the north east of England at the time of installation. The panels generate about 1.5% of the total energy used at the site, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide the factory produces by 225,000kg a year.

Following our work at Fawdon, we have successfully completed another solar panel installation at our Tutbury factory.


Anaerobic digestion investment

Also at Fawdon, we invested more than £3.2 million in an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant. The factory sends its liquid and solid waste to the AD plant, where naturally occurring bacteria digest the waste, creating biogas. The biogas fuels a combined heat and power engine which produces 200kW of electricity, or 5-8% of the factory's power. The process also means that Fawdon is now a zero-waste factory, which means that we send no waste to landfill or for incineration.

Our investments at Fawdon, combined with a range of initiatives at other sites, have helped us achieve our greenhouse gas and renewable energy objectives for 2015, and put us on track to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020.

Adapting to a changing climate

In the UK, we have developed climate change adaption plans for each of our manufacturing sites to build business resilience and protect our communities.

The plans are based on a full analysis of key climate vulnerabilities, and include actions to reduce risks such as heat stress, cold stress, flooding, drought and extreme storms. We will review our plans every three years against the latest scientific findings and research.

Heat recovery technology at Tutbury

At our Tutbury factory, we’ve invested in heat exchanger technology to reduce the energy used to extract coffee liquor. The technology has lead to a saving of 10,000GJ of energy a year, equalling 700 tonnes of CO2. Thanks to the new system, the factory is also saving 60,000 M3 of water per year.

Flood defense system

Also in Tutbury, we have been using a sustainable urban drainage system (SuDS) since 2009. The system manages the quantity and quality of water flowing back into the local water system, and feeds water from the site into specially created ponds. These ponds help minimise the risk of flooding by providing natural storage, while their reed beds also provide natural filtration.

We are planning to extend the SuDS system into two new areas as part of the site’s factory expansion programme.

Rail transport: challenges and opportunities

Last year we missed our target of switching 15% of our road transportation to rail. We had hoped to design a rail container that would allow us to double stack, but this did not happen due to technical and cost issues. Meanwhile, the collapse of road fuel prices in 2015 meant that there was no cost incentive to increase our volumes on rail.

We still believe that rail will play an increasingly important role in our distribution network in future. We have expanded our rail operation and trains are now regularly carrying loads from Hams Hall to Scotland, although in relatively small numbers. We are also in discussion with a number of parties to start a rail operation to move water from Sheffield to our customer base in the southeast of the UK.

We continue to work with the industry to realise a number of opportunities in the future, when both the equipment and cost benefit will be available. By 2020 we hope to be able to use rail to service our customer base in the Dartford and Thurrock areas, and to reload from our Purina PetCare factory in Sudbury. This will depend on a number of changes being made to the factory to accommodate rail containers, and we have put forward the case to make these changes.

KitKat truck  

Reducing carbon emissions across our fleet

To reduce our road fleet’s carbon emissions, we are moving to lower emission vehicles and fuels where possible, as well as making our distribution system more efficient.

We know that empty running is a major cause of unnecessary fuel consumption and carbon emissions. By streamlining our distribution system, we reduced empty running to 11.94% in 2015, from 15.17% in 2013. This equates to removing around 70,000km of empty runs in the past two years.

Also in 2015, we changed half of our fleet to low-emission trucks fuelled by methane and diesel. However, due to the collapse of fuel prices this proved not to be cost-effective, so we no longer have them. Instead, we are currently considering switching to a diesel/LPG fuel mix. We have converted a truck to run on this fuel, and will trial it in the first half 2016 before deciding whether to roll it out to the rest of the fleet.

Green transport plan

The average commuter driving to work in the UK produces 1.4 tonnes of CO2 each year. Through our Green Transport Plan, we’re trying to reduce our impact on the environment by encouraging our employees in the UK to consider one of four alternatives: cycling, walking, public transport or using an electric car to get to work.

As part of the plan, we’ve launched a partnership with Nissan to offer employees the chance to buy or rent a Nissan electric car at a substantially reduced price. The partnership will enable employees to charge their electric cars on site and for free. The plan also offers major discounts on the cost of a new bike, and the opportunity to join cycle-to-work clubs.

icon right  

What’s next?

In the UK, in order to achieve our commitments to using 100% renewable energy and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2020 across all our operations, we launched a significant investment programme at the end of 2015. This investment will enable us to move from 100% procured renewable electricity to self-generation by working with a partner to build wind power infrastructure to power all our operations in the UK & Ireland.