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Nestle to spend up to 2b Swiss francs on recycled-plastic plan

[ZURICH] Nestle SA plans to spend as much as two billion Swiss francs (S$2.79 billion) to shift towards using more recycled plastic.

The KitKat maker will earmark more than 1.5 billion francs to pay a premium for food-grade recycled plastic given that the supply of such material is limited, the Vevey, Switzerland-based company said on Thursday.

Nestle also said it will set up a 250 million franc venture-capital fund to develop new packaging solutions. The company said it will try to keep the plastic purchasing neutral on earnings through efficiencies.

Food and beverage makers have increasingly come under pressure from consumers and environmental groups such as Greenpeace for using too much plastic. Nestle has pledged to make all of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. Unilever aims to halve its use of newly made plastic by the same year and is testing refill stations for products like laundry detergent and shampoo.

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Nestle inaugurated a packaging research site near Lausanne in September to develop packaging that's less harmful to the environment, such as fully biodegradable paper-based water bottles and refillable containers.

The Swiss company, like rivals PepsiCo Inc and Danone, is also experimenting with water dispensers in an attempt to shift to selling beverages without bottles.