Unilever wants all industry’s plastic packaging to be fully circular

Unilever has committed to ensuring that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 as it called on the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry to accelerate progress towards the circular economy. In fact, the company is calling on the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry to accelerate its progress towards the circular economy.

Treating plastic packaging as a valuable resource to be managed efficiently and effectively is a key priority in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 (Sustainable Consumption & Production) and, in doing so, shifting away from a “take-make-dispose” model of consumption to one which is fully circular.

To help transform global plastic packaging material flows, Unilever has committed to:

  • Ensure all of its plastic packaging is designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025
  • Renew its membership of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for another three years and endorse and support their New Plastics Economy initiative. As part of this, it will publish the full “palette” of plastics materials used in its packaging by 2020 to help create a plastics protocol for the industry
  • Invest in proving, and then sharing with the industry, a technical solution to recycle multi-layered sachets, particularly for coastal areas which are most at risk of plastics leaking into the ocean

Unilever has already committed to reduce the weight of the packaging it uses this decade by one third by 2020, and increase its use of recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% by 2025 against a 2015 baseline, both as part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. In 2015, it achieved its commitment of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across its manufacturing operations.

Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, commented: “To address the challenge of ocean plastic waste we need to work on systemic solutions – ones which stop plastics entering our waterways in the first place. We hope these commitments will encourage others in the industry to make collective progress towards ensuring that all of our plastic packaging is fully recyclable and recycled.“ According to him,  a partnership is needed with governments and other stakeholders to support the development and scaling up of collection and reprocessing infrastructure. „Ultimately, we want all of the industry’s plastic packaging to be fully circular”, Polman added.

Ellen MacArthur underlined: “By committing to ambitious circular economy goals for plastic packaging, Unilever is contributing to tangible system change and sends a strong signal to the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry. Combining upstream measures on design and materials with post-use strategies demonstrates the system-wide approach that is required to turn the New Plastics Economy into reality.”

As part of its commitment, Unilever will ensure that by 2025, it is technically possible for its plastic packaging to be reused or recycled and there are established, proven examples of it being commercially viable for plastics re-processors to recycle the material.

Source: Unilever

Photo: GR-Archive