Natural capital

natural capital

Natural capital

What is the issue?

Increasingly, businesses are becoming aware of the value of natural capital – nature’s limited stock of resources and services, including biodiversity, clean water and soil, that economic activity depends on. As a company that sources a wide range of ingredients from the natural world, we recognise the vital importance of preserving and enhancing natural capital.

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Why is it important?

We believe that treating natural capital as a valuable business asset is a key part of what it means to be a sustainable business. We strive to understand and manage our impacts on natural capital throughout our operations. Through our supply chain partnerships, we encourage our dairy farmers and other suppliers to do the same.

We can see many of the flows of water and wildlife that derive from healthy natural systems, but we diminish the less visible stock of natural capital they depend upon at our peril. Using a natural capital lens helps bring neglected issues like soil quality and carbon storage into focus.
Matthew Spencer, Director – Green Alliance


  • Achieved
  • By 2015 – develop biodiversity programmes for each of our UK sites.
  • We have completed natural capital site assessments for Buxton, Fawdon, and Dalston, and will continue to roll-out assessments across our other sites on an ongoing basis. We are using the learnings from the pilot assessments to enhance the assessment process going forward.

Protecting and enhancing the UK’s natural resources.


More efficient, sustainable rural supply chains.

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What are we doing about it?

Nestlé has taken a strong position on natural capital at a global level. We were one of the pilot members of the Natural Capital Coalition, a global, multi-stakeholder platform set up to help shift corporate behaviour towards preserving and enhancing natural capital. In 2013, we made a global commitment to acting as a responsible steward of natural capital, and reporting regularly on our progress in this area.

In the UK, we work to measure and manage our impact on natural capital both in our own sites and also throughout our UK supply chain, with a focus on our dairy farms in Cumbria and Ayrshire. Through our partnerships with organisations and initiatives such as the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and the Green Alliance programme, we also share knowledge and shape policy on natural capital in the UK.

Kids planting  

Wild Business site assessments

To develop an effective natural capital management plan for our sites, we first need to fully understand how our factories impact on natural capital.

Working with Wild Business, an independent consultancy that specialises in helping businesses engage with wild spaces, we’ve begun rolling-out a programme of natural capital assessments across all our sites in the UK. In 2014 and 2015, assessments took place at Dalston, Fawdon and Buxton, and these will help us develop a natural capital management plan for each of these sites.

Farmers with a cow  

First Milk partnership

We aim to pass on the lessons we’ve learned about natural capital throughout our supply chain. For example, as part of our natural capital biodiversity programme, we encourage biodiversity not just in our own sites, but also in land owned by our First Milk farmers.

So far, seven dairy farmers who supply our Girvan factories in Scotland have planted wildflower meadows on their land, following our biodiversity programme.

Sharing knowledge, shaping policy

By working in partnership with other organisations, we can better understand our impacts across our value chain, and share our knowledge and shape policy for the benefit of others.

Along with our engagement with multi-stakeholder industry organisations such as the Natural Capital Leaders Platform and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, we’re also working with the environmental charity and think tank, Green Alliance, on a new policy framework to preserve and enhance natural capital in the UK.

Kids picking fallen leaves  

Get better with nature

In September 2015, Nestlé Waters announced the launch of Get Better With Nature, a national campaign developed in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts. Get Better with Nature aims to educate children and adults of all ages about the benefits that nature can bring to our everyday lives, as well as promoting conservation in local communities. The campaign is due to roll out across other parts of the UK following a successful pilot in Buxton, Derbyshire.

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What’s next?

In the coming years we will continue to work to better understand our impacts and dependencies on nature across our operations. By 2020, our objective is to implement natural capital improvement plans for all of the priority areas identified through our current natural capital assessment process, such as catchment area management in our upstream supply chain.