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Kieran Conroy

Country Manager, Nestlé Ireland

Climate change is the challenge of our time and there is no longer a choice about whether to act, only how we do it.

More extreme weather conditions and increases in temperatures will directly impact food production and influence the supply-demand chain. While the food system is a significant contributor to climate change, it also has a unique opportunity to be a significant part of the solution. 

As the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé has an important role to play in reducing our impact on the environment while helping to feed a growing global population.

The last generation to act

Kieran Conroy, Nestlé Ireland Country Manager, explains how the company is taking positive action to tackle climate change. “We are the first generation to experience the impacts of climate change and the last generation who can do anything about it.

“At Nestlé, regeneration is all about developing and putting in place systems, from farm to table, that restore, replenish and flourish and have a positive impact, locally and globally.

“We have made a commitment to reach net zero emissions across the whole of our operations by 2050, and to half our emissions by 2030. To achieve this will require radical action across our whole value chain, from switching to renewable energy in our factories and offices, to looking for new innovative packaging solutions for our products, to working with our suppliers and farmers on future proofing our food system.

To feed the world for generations to come, our approach must go beyond ‘doing no harm’ to having a positive impact on food systems at scale.

Impact of agriculture

“The majority of our impact, our carbon footprint, comes from agriculture – the ways we grow and produce the ingredients that make up our products. Therefore, we’re focusing on more regenerative agricultural practices. A regenerative food system is a healthy one – one that can continue to provide, produce, replenish, that can support communities, provide livelihoods and nourish us all.

“At Nestlé, regeneration is rooted in agricultural practices that improve soil health and fertility, sequester carbon, protect and restore natural resources like water and foster biodiversity. That foundation is essential to our definition, but regeneration also encompasses much more. To feed the world for generations to come, our approach must go beyond ‘doing no harm’ to having a positive impact on food systems at scale.

“How we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food impacts both people and the planet. We have to shift our approach from doing no harm, to having a positive impact on the food system at scale. Therefore, we are committed to advancing regenerative food systems at scale – collaborating with our suppliers and farmers to implement more regenerative practices,” he continues.

Initiatives that focus on sustainable packaging, water stewardship, supporting farmers and redirecting nutritious food to communities in need are the ways in which this ambition can be brought to life.

Preserving our water systems

To that end, Nestle’s Wyeth Nutrition facility, in Askeaton Co Limerick recently became the first manufacturing site in Ireland to receive the highest-possible certification under the rigorous Global Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard. Developing and implementing proven responsible water policies which lead to water preservation and reduction, allied with engagement with local stakeholders were key criteria to meet.

Askeaton reduced its water usage by more than 30% and has also educated all employees on respecting and reducing water usage, both at home and in the factory. As a Bord Bia, Origin Green Gold member it has made significant progress in resource efficiency and reducing its energy usage and carbon footprint. It has sustainable operations strategies in place across energy, waste, water and biodiversity. 

Sustainability is embedded across every point of its operations and this has seen significant highlights including zero waste to landfill since 2015, reducing water usage by more than a quarter and creating new connections with the local community through our unique butterfly meadow and our indigenous tree planning programme where almost 2,000 trees have been planted adjacent to the site. 

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