At Nestlé, we believe that we’re better when we harness the power of our employees to take urgent action on the biggest issues. We apply that principle to our sustainability ambitions, reimagining all aspects of our business, from the ingredients we use, to the packaging that keeps our food safe, to how we make and transport our products.
I couldn’t be prouder to see that Fast Company has recognized this work, naming Nestlé USA among the Best Workplaces for Innovators in Sustainability. What makes me most proud is that this program specifically seeks to recognize companies that excel at empowering employees to innovate.
This has been a conscious effort at Nestlé, where we’ve embraced a culture of innovation that invites employees across the entire company to take risks and make real change – from the leadership team, to our manufacturing experts, to those just starting out in their careers. Our global scale means that our work can have a significant impact in driving a sustainable future, and it also means we have a deep well of employee expertise and creativity to draw upon.
Here’s a quick look at just some of the work we’ve done to create a culture that values innovation in sustainability.
A Real Investment in Fresh Ideas
When Nicole Camilleri, Packaging Manager at Nestlé USA, noticed how one design tweak to a package could help it go from being destined to end up in a landfill to being recyclable, she and the entire Technical Packaging Team were inspired to help make a change. This helped lead to the creation of fully recyclable shrink sleeve labels for Coffee mate natural bliss bottles, which have now been rolled out across the natural bliss portfolio. With the new sleeve, you can now recycle your favorite coffee creamer without having to remove the label, saving time while doing good for the planet.
It’s inspiring to see how our teams are rethinking packaging as a resource to be conserved and looking for innovative ways to make recycling easier for consumers.
We are excited about investing in real changes like these, sparked by ideas our teams come across in their everyday lives and brought to market by hard work and utilizing the latest technology and trends. What’s more, we’re not just investing in sustainability ideas from our packaging teams: we’ve opened this creativity to the entire workforce through our internal crowd-sourcing program, Open Channel.
Open Channel encourages employees to submit creative product ideas, which are then voted on by the entire employee body and presented to the leadership team, with the winners receiving financial investment and development. In 2021, we launched our first ever Open Channel innovation challenge focused on sustainability, harnessing the creative mind of employees across the Americas to bring new sustainable practices to life. Through this challenge, we received more than 1,000 new ideas in sustainability – an incredibly rich resource to help us drive change.
A Culture of Continuous Education
To embed a culture of innovation in our sustainability work, we’ve created several programs that bring sustainability education to life – empowering our employees to share ideas across teams and geographies and closing key knowledge gaps.
Much of this education comes from collaboration between teams. We’ve created interactive systems that allow any employee to learn more about new sustainable practices that could be applicable to their work. Our factory leaders have access to a broad library of information such as our “Environmental Excellence” internal site, which provides the latest educational resources as well as a calendar of events for expanded learning.
In 2021, we hosted our first internal Sustainability Expo, open to all employees. The virtual expo brought together internal and external experts to talk about big issues facing our industry and how employees throughout Nestlé are innovating to create a more sustainable future. The expo team educated and inspired more than 2,000 employees in live attendance, with the materials still being used by further employees as learning tools today.
An Inclusive Space to Spark Creativity
Essential to Nestlé’s progress is our commitment to a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Bringing together new voices is a vital part of innovating for change – and because everyone is different, everyone has specific environments in which they feel able to thrive.
At Nestlé USA, we launched a flexible hybrid work model to reflect this need, empowering our teams to leverage a mix of in-office and at-home work, depending on where they feel most productive. As leaders, we’re also committed to empowering our employees to make on-the-ground decisions in their daily roles, making swift innovation easier and more accessible for everyone.
In a February 2022 employee poll, 84% of Nestlé USA employees reported they feel comfortable sharing new ideas with company leadership and 82% said they actively feel encouraged to coordinate with other teams. This culture of open collaboration and conversation is foundational to our innovative sustainability work, because we believe change can and should come from anywhere.
I’m so proud of the expansive work we’ve done at Nestlé to encourage innovation across the company, and Fast Company’s recognition of our work in sustainability innovation is another reminder of our high-achieving employees and the progress we’ve made in working toward our guiding mission: to leave the world better than we found it.