Unilever Announces New Commitments for a Waste-free World
Global consumer goods company Unilever has announced ambitious new commitments to reduce its plastic waste and help create a circular economy for plastics. By 2025, the multi-brand owner expects to halve its use of virgin plastic, by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerating its use of recycled plastic. They also promise to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells. This commitment makes Unilever the first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio. Besides, its existing commitments include ensuring all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable and to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging. This will require the company to help collect and process around 600,000 tonnes of plastic annually by 2025. This will be delivered through investment and partnerships which improve waste management infrastructure in many of the countries in which Unilever operates.
Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, said: “Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment. We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle. We are also committed to ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable. This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative packaging materials and scale up new business models, like re-use and re-fill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity.”
Ellen MacArthur, Founder, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, said: “Today’s announcement by Unilever is a significant step in creating a circular economy for plastic. By eliminating unnecessary packaging through innovations such as refill, reuse, and concentrates, while increasing their use of recycled plastic, Unilever is demonstrating how businesses can move away from virgin plastics. We urge others to follow their lead, so collectively we can eliminate the plastic we don’t need, innovate, so what we do need is circulated, and ultimately build an economic system where plastic packaging never becomes waste.”
Since 2017, Unilever has been transforming its approach to plastic packaging through its ‘Less, Better, No’ plastic framework. Through ‘Less Plastic’ Unilever has introduced refill stations for shampoo and laundry detergent rolled out across shops, universities and mobile vending in South East Asia. ‘Better plastic’ has led to pioneering innovations such as the new detectable pigment, which makes black plastic recyclable, and bottles made of 100% recycled plastic and is collected using a deposit scheme. As part of ‘No plastic’, Unilever has introduced shampoo bars, refillable toothpaste tablets, cardboard deodorant sticks and bamboo toothbrushes. It has also signed up to the Loop platform, which is exploring new ways of delivering and collecting reusable products from consumers’ homes.