Country by country, street by street: Nestlé on navigating global recycling regulations

Nestlé operates globally​, which means its products are also disposed of globally. But the recycling regimes of the world are a patchwork of differences. Navigating these myriad of different packaging regimes, between and even within the countries in which it operates, is easier said than done.


Even within a country, curbside recycling rules often vary wildly. The UK, for example, is a patchwork of local authorities making a patchwork of curbside recycling rules. These differences can be seen on a granular level, often varying from street to street. In England alone there are 317 local authorities, and each one with a different recycling regime. Curbside rules also vary between countries.

This, of course, is a challenge for a company such as Nestlé. It is advocating for a more streamlined approach, which seems to be on the legislational horizon. For example, a piece of legislation called Simpler Recycling is due to come into force in 2025, which will make it so that all local authorities will have to accept the same materials (although it does not address recycling methods). A similar harmonisation, according to Sokhna Gueye, head of packaging at Nestlé UK and Ireland, is going on in France, which was historically fragmented in a similar way to the UK.

The UK has a wide range of recycling regimes across its many local authorities. Image Source: Getty Images/Tim Platt

Nestlé is also a founding member of the Flexible Packaging Fund, which aims to understand consumer behaviour when recycling flexible packaging. This will help to ascertain which recycling infrastructure works best for said packaging.