New breakthrough in tackling plastic waste

The international consumer goods company Unilever is teaming up with researchers in Germany to pilot an innovative technology to recycle sachet waste. Plastic recycling protects the environment and is good for a company’s bottom line.

Billions of single-use sachets are sold every year, particularly in developing and emerging markets where they allow low-income consumers to buy small amounts of products that would otherwise be unaffordable to them. But without a viable recycling solution, hundreds of billions of plastic sachet packaging end up in landfills or enter our oceans.

In an effort to tackle this mounting problem, Unliver is teaming up with researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV) to recycle these plastic sachets.

CreaSolv Process is a ground-breaking new technology that recovers plastic from the sachet and then reuses it to create new sachets for Unilever products – creating a full circular economy approach.

“Billions of sachets are used once and just thrown away, all over the world, ending up in landfill or in our waterways and oceans. At the start of this year we made a commitment to help solve this problem, developing new recycling technologies,” David Blanchard, Chief R&D Officer at Unilever, said in a statement.

“We intend to make this tech open source and would hope to scale the technology with industry partners, so others – including our competitors – can use it.

Unilever will open a pilot plant in Indonesia later this year to test the long-term commercial viability of the technology. Indonesia, is a critical country in which to tackle waste, producing 64 million tonnes every year, with 1.3 million tonnes ending up in the ocean.

Plastic recycling is good for the environment and a company’s bottom line.

“We know that globally USD 80-120 billion is lost to the economy through failing to properly recycle plastics each year. Finding a solution represents a huge opportunity,” said Blanchard.

“We believe that our commitment to making 100 per cent of our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable will support the long-term growth of our business.”

Earlier this year, Unilever pledged to ensure all of its plastic packaging is “fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025”.


Image credit: Ikhlasul Amal, flickr/Creative Commons

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