Project Manager, Nestle Waters North America
The Director of Corporate Citizenship at Nestle Waters North America (NWNA), hired me to manage four projects related to life cycle assessment:
In-depth: LCA Comparing Bottled Water with Other Beverages
The bottled water market has experienced significant growth over the last decade, and concern has more recently arisen that while bottled water meets a consumer demand for a healthy and convenient beverage, this increased use may be accompanied by an environmental burden. Several non-governmental organizations have launched campaigns to discourage purchases of bottled water, conference organizers often provide reusable bottles instead of single-serve portions, and a small number of municipalities have even contemplated banning its purchase for public functions. This attention is not based on any empirical evidence, but rather on the assumption that bottled and tap water are interchangeable, and with the larger environmental footprint of the two, bottled water is thus a product that should be avoided.
NWNA undertook this project with two major objectives: to understand how bottled water really stacks up against other beverages – from a scientific perspective, using life cycle assessment, and to identify the best next steps to guide the company’s efforts related to sustainability. With my guidance NWNA hired Quantis, a leading LCA consultant, to evaluate the environmental impacts associated with bottled water, tap water, several other bottled beverages, as well as reusable (aluminum, steel, plastic) beverage containers. Key findings included:
The study complies fully with the ISO standards that govern how externally facing LCAs should be conducted and as such, we recruited a committee of internationally-recognized LCA experts to peer review the report. I worked with the committee chair to secure excellent feedback that improved the quality of the report in a very short turnaround time. The full LCA is available online at: www.beveragelcafootprint.com.
Because the full technical report can be difficult to digest for lay audiences, I subsequently worked with the sales team at NWNA to define and create materials for the team to use when communicating the results of the study with clients and potential clients. The team faces frequent questions regarding bottled water’s environmental footprint, and the sales materials were designed to enhance NWNA’s strategic advantage in the marketplace while staying true to the findings of the study.
In-depth: Corporate Carbon Footprint
NWNA had completed its first carbon inventory in 2006, and needed to conduct a new inventory based on its 2008 data. I worked with external consultants and internal teams to manage the footprinting process, and also to guide the evaluation of progress toward NWNA’s goal of a 20% emissions intensity reduction by 2013.
In-depth: Delivered 5-gallon Containers and On-Tap Filters
NWNA’s Home and Office Delivery (HOD) division commissioned this study, performed by ERG under my management to compare the environmental impacts associated with their 5-gallon containers of delivered water and an on-tap water filter that the company also offers to clients. The assessment found that the largest difference between the two systems actually lay in the use phase: water dispensers with heating and cooling functions use far more energy than dispensers that provide water only at ambient temperatures. This finding backed up the HOD division’s existing strategy of shifting toward Energy Star rated dispensers, but also showed managers the important role that client education can play. Consumers who are concerned about the environmental impacts of the HOD division’s products can actually make the single choice that drives the majority of these impacts: selecting a dispenser that delivers water at room temperature.