Environmental champion:Aranols (right) launching Project ReLeaf with Energy and NaturalResources Minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah. It is its reforestation initiative which willsee the company plant three million trees in Malaysia over the next three years.Environmental champion: Aranols (right) launching Project ReLeaf with Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah. It is its reforestation initiative which will see the company plant three million trees in Malaysia over the next three years. NESTLE (Malaysia) Bhd takes pride in being one of the leading champions of sustainable growth within Corporate Malaysia. The company, which has been operating in Malaysia for about 108 years, wants to make faster progress in driving sustainability further – not only for itself but also for the industry. Its chief executive officer Juan Aranols believes that Nestle Malaysia, given its scale and market presence, would have the “pull factor” that encourages many other companies to follow suit. Underpinned by its “Creating Shared Value” principle, the food giant seeks to continuously build a business model that ensures a healthy bottom line and long-term, sustainable value creation for shareholders while tackling societal issues at the same time. Speaking with StarBizWeek, Aranols says the company does not take shortcuts in doing business. As he affirms Nestle Malaysia’s keenness to continue bringing a positive impact on Malaysian society, Aranols points out that sustainable practices are the only way to ensure that the company’s brands remain robust and relevant for generations to come. “We have been doing it by being an active part in providing nutrition for many generations in Malaysia, and that will continue. “More and more, our ambition is to be a driving force on the transition of the industry towards a more environmentally sustainable situation. “I think that we are making progress, but we also want to encourage everybody to be part of this effort, ” he says. Its latest venture into plant-based meal solutions is one of the important steps to promote sustainability in food production. Aranols explains that by obtaining 1kg of protein from a plant origin, it requires less than 5% of water, 5% of the land and a fraction of carbon dioxide emissions when compared to getting the same amount of protein from a meat origin. “Globally, the planet cannot feed 10 billion people in the same way that it has been doing in the past. “In terms of sustainability impact and environmental consequence of meat-based diet for billions of people, that is unmanageable, ” he says. Contrary to the common misperception, Aranols says sustainable practices do not necessarily mean that one needs to incur higher costs. In the case of Nestle Malaysia, he points out that the company’s profitability has remained at “very healthy levels” over the years amid its efforts to promote sustainability in its operations. During the same period, he says the company has not done any significant layoffs or restructuring of staff, in addition to the fact that its product prices have not increased significantly over the last few years. This was possible, Aranols says, due to significant efficiency gains in internal processes. Taking Nestle Malaysia’s newly-adopted logistics technology as an example, Aranols says it lowers the cost of sending a truck out of the distribution centre by optimising its load via carrying more goods and higher-value goods. “The routes are optimised...the carbon footprint is reduced because when a truck is optimised, the carbon dioxide per kg transported becomes much more efficient. “This is pure usage of technology, data analytics and digital tools to make our operations more efficient, ” he says. It is noteworthy that Nestle Malaysia is one of the few public-listed companies in Malaysia that began measuring its environmental impact many years earlier. Among the environmental impacts reported are the company’s water consumption per tonne and its carbon dioxide generation per tonne. Nestle Malaysia is also the first company in Asean to eliminate over 200 million plastic straws and fully adopt sustainably sourced paper straws. With the aim to drive biodiversity conservation, the company launched Project RELeaf in September 2020, a reforestation initiative in Malaysia contributing to the company’s global pledge to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. According to Aranols, Project RELeaf could probably be the largest reforestation initiative that Nestle has initiated. “We will be investing about RM6mil to RM7mil annually for RELeaf over the next three years. Our aim is to replant three million trees over the period.“We are also starting to look beyond reforestation. We are seeing how we can encourage people to not litter, to separate and segregate their waste so we can start building a more circular economy, and avoid a lot of waste especially plastic waste, and in landfill. “We are working, for instance, to help communities organise collections. We have actually a few pioneering initiatives to have kerbside collection and ensure safe disposal, ” he says. Beyond these measures, Nestle Malaysia is also working towards reducing its own use of plastics, with a commitment to make 100% of its plastic recyclable by 2025. Aranols says these are ongoing initiatives, and moving into 2021, there will be an acceleration in such efforts. Nestle Malaysia is also exploring the adoption of solar power as the energy source for its factories. This is in line with its global commitment to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy for its productions facilities worldwide. “Once we get past Covid-19, the issue of climate change and what we can do to deal with it will come back to haunt us if we don’t take action fast, ” says Aranols.
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