Nestlé announced on April 29, 2020, that it would co-fund a new Chair for Sustainable Materials at the EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland, together with Logitech, SIG and other industry partners. The chair will focus on the research and development of sustainable materials such as alternative packaging to enable the reduction of plastic waste. Together, the companies have committed to provide CHF 5 million over 10 years.
The funding will support a new chair for sustainable materials research within EPFL’s Institute of Materials. The chair, to be appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, will be responsible for developing and implementing a new research program on sustainable materials. Research topics of interest will address critical areas, such as the overall environmental impact of materials and the exploration of bio-based, bio-degradable and recyclable materials, including high-performance paper-based barrier materials that could help to address environmental concerns about plastic packaging, and more.
Stefan Palzer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer said: “Tackling plastic pollution is a top priority for Nestlé. We continue our efforts to pilot novel approaches for re-use packaging, while also evaluating new recycling technologies and sustainable packaging materials. The development of high performing, environmentally friendly materials requires a fundamental understanding of material structures and properties, which is why we are collaborating with our innovation partners to invest in sustainable material research at EPFL.”
“Our specialists are already committed to developing cutting-edge, new materials that will help the world get rid of its dependency on petrol-based products. Building strong relationships with industrial partners is key to have these new products reach customers in the most efficient way,” stresses Martin Vetterli, EPFL President.
The discovery and development of functional, safe and environmentally friendly packaging solutions is a key focus for Nestlé. In 2018, the company announced its Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences as an important step further to achieve the company’s commitment to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The Institute’s broader research partnership with EPFL includes a four-year agreement to support postdoctoral and PhD projects aimed at developing and testing life-cycle engineered food packaging.
Located in Switzerland, EPFL is one of the globally leading Universities in Material and Life Sciences. Both EPFL and Nestlé sit at the heart of a unique Swiss innovation ecosystem, which consists of global companies, scientific institutions, and a large number of start-ups. In 2019, the organizations joined forces with the Swiss Canton of Vaud and the Swiss Hospitality Management School in Lausanne (EHL Group) to launch the Swiss Food & Nutrition Valley to attract further talents, start-ups and investments to Switzerland.
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