As part of Recycle Week, we spoke to Group Packaging Manager Alison Bramfitt about her role and how Nestlé is working towards its goal of making all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025.
So Alison, what does a Group Packaging Manager do exactly?
Every day is different in my job. I could be talking to the government about packaging regulations, visiting recycling facilities or exploring industry issues relating to the UK’s recycling infrastructure. At the same time, I’ll be supporting and tracking developments within Nestlé as we work towards making our packaging sustainable.
How long have you worked at Nestlé? And what would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
I’ve worked here for 11 years now. I was especially proud to be the lead representative for Nestlé on Project Reflex. This was about exploring how to create a circular economy for flexible packaging in the UK, working alongside eight other businesses led by Axion. It laid the building blocks for a much bigger undertaking, Project CEFLEX, which has a European focus and over 100 members.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting piece of packaging Nestlé do?
The recyclable paper packaging for our YES! bars is an industry first. It’s made from coated paper that’s widely recyclable with other paper; and comes from sustainable sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Who do you admire in the packaging space/landscape?
There is a lot of great work happening in the packaging space. One of my biggest inspirations is Helene Roberts. She started in packaging at M&S, has introduced many changes within the industry and progressed to become the MD of Klockner Pentaplast UK & Australia.
What drives you to create and be innovative with regards to packaging?
I’m very motivated by the need to improve the sustainability of our packaging. I’m really proud that Nestlé is taking an industry-leading position, but it is obviously a huge undertaking and there is much work still to do.
How is Nestlé working to be ahead in the industry in terms of producing sustainable and recyclable packaging?
This month we opened our new Packaging Research Institute to accelerate developments on sustainable packaging, which will focus on solutions such as reusable packaging and new recycled packaging materials.
How do you feel attitudes have changed from consumers towards packaging needing to be recyclable/sustainable and why?
Consumers are much more aware about the need to recycle. There is a lot of concern around plastic and what it is doing to the environment - David Attenborough’s Blue Planet TV series had an enormous impact. More and more, consumers expect packaging to be reusable or easily recyclable – and they will look for alternatives when it is not.
Do you think Nestlé can get involved with the idea of a circular economy and does this concept influence you in your job?
Nestlé was one of the first companies to sign the New Plastic Global Economy Commitment. We are constantly working towards our commitment to make all of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. New initiatives are happening all the time – for example towards the end of this year, we will start to make all of our Smarties packaging plastic-free.
What do you think is the future for packaging, within Nestlé and beyond?
It’s an exciting time. I think for the immediate future, it will continue to be all about recycled packaging materials. There is a lot of interest in Waitrose’s ‘Unpacked’ trial, which invites customers to restock designated items using containers they have brought from home. It will be interesting to see how this develops – and how customers choose to shop in the future.
And finally – what is your favourite product and why?
Smarties – and not just because they are going plastic free! I have loved them since I was little and now I can share them with my son.