Nestle Indonesia, the local unit of the global food and drink maker based in Switzerland, said that it was helping farmers whose livestock have been affected by last week’s eruption of Mount Kelud.
Arshad Chaudhry, president director of Nestle Indonesia, said in a press conference on Tuesday that villages within the vicinity of Kelud had been affected, adding that some cows had been stressed out from the eruption and it would take some time before they could produce milk again.
Kelud’s eruption last Thursday night forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and brought a cloud of ash that spread as far west as Bandung on Friday. Yogyakarta was blanketed in ash, and stupas at the nearby Borobudur temple — which draws thousands of visitors each week — were covered in tarp to prevent damage.
“We mobilized a lot of silage for the cows, food for the cows,” said Chaudhry , referring to the fodder.
“So, together with the people there, the military and the government, we tried to assist each other,” he added.
“We, in fact, called the government to ask what we can do to help also because it’s the area where we collect milk from farmers, so we provided some products and water and all the assistance we could.”
Nestle’s network includes 35,000 dairy farmers who oversee cows that can produce 635,000 liters of fresh milk a day.
Chaudhry also told the Jakarta Globe that Nestle Indonesia would be investing in biogas plants in East Java.
Biogas plants use air-tight tanks to trap methane gas from biodegradable waste such as food crops and sewage, which can then be used in generating electricity and for heating. Nestle intends to invest in plants running on cattle waste.
“The cow waste is converted into energy and farmers can use it for burning stoves or for lighting their house,” Chaudhry said.
Nestle is also working toward more recyclable packaging of their products.
“We have been working with the suppliers continuously and we are inviting our suppliers to make recyclable packaging,” Chaudhry said. He wouldn’t give a time frame on when Nestle aims to have its packaging be recyclable.
John Elkington, executive chairman of Britain-based consulting firm Volans and an expert in corporate social responsibility, said businesses were once seen as the “great Satan” that no one could trust them to act responsibly.
But the “new breed” of entrepreneurs that are more aware of climate change have changed those attitudes. Elkington says that politicians around the world are obstacles to a sustainable future, partly because of the complexity of climate science. He cited the United States as an example.
Author Tony Ng