A year ago, Nestlé Waters North America Inc. CEO and President Kim Jeffery boldly proclaimed the company would build a $30 million, joint venture, bottle-to-bottle recycling plant on the East Coast to produce 40 million pounds of PET annually and have it up and running within a year.
“My target date has obviously come and gone,” said Jeffery. “I was too optimistic. But we are going forward with it.”
His revised target today is the same type of time frame he set for himself last year — that is, no later than 12 months from now. “We have got to get something up and running in the next 12 months,” Jeffrey said in a phone interview in mid-April. “We can't wait.”
But unlike one year ago, when Jeffery declined to name a specific location other than the East Coast, he said Greenwich, Conn.-based Nestlé has narrowed the location down a bit further: Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, though the search for the right location could extend a bit beyond that region, he said.
“We're targeting that area because we have two huge plants in eastern Pennsylvania and three big plants in Maine,” said Jeffery. “This recycling plant is going to serve those plants and it will be very similar” to the $58 million, bottle-to-bottle, food-grade CarbonLite Industries LLC PET recycling plant in Riverside, Calif., that opened earlier this year, he said.
“Those are the guys we'd like to do the East Coat plant with,” said Jeffery. “We've got an agreement that's done.”
In California, Nestlé has agreed to purchase one-third of the output of the CarbonLite plant to incorporate 50 percent recycled content into its Arrowhead brand of bottled spring water, which is bottled at its plant in Cabazon, Calif., some 40 miles away.
On the East Coast, Nestlé would incorporate the recycled PET into either its Deer Park brand, much of which is bottled in Pennsylvania, or its Poland Springs brand, which is largely bottled in Maine.
“If we want to do 50 percent recycled content, it will be one brand,” said Jeffery. “It will be 25 cent percent recycled content if it is both of them.”
Once the recycling plant is built and operating at full capacity, it will supply about 10 percent of Nestlé's current total PET resin needs -— about 440 million pounds per year, the company said.
Despite the aggressive timetable for the second year in a row, Jeffery did not say when a decision or announcement on the new PET recycling plant might be forthcoming.
CarbonLite President Neville Browne said in an email that “feasibility planning for another facility is well-advanced.” However, he also said nothing has changed since the CarbonLite grand opening March 2.
Jeffery said his goal is to help improve recycling rates on beverage containers and other products.
“We made the commitment [to purchase recycled PET from CarbonLite] because I think it is important to show consumers what can be done if we recycle. … It stands out there as a much broader commitment, and besides, it is something we have to do” as brand owners, he said.
“We have increased competition right now throughout our society for limited resources, and that's not going to change,” Jeffery said. “There is a real paradigm shift and realization that our natural resources are finite. So we can't just keep throwing [material] away. We have to get it back and incorporate it into our products.”
He continued, “I'm not okay with the status quo on how we reclaim materials and what we're doing now is not working,” said Jeffery.