Unilever sets out plans for waste-free world

International consumer goods company Unilever has announced that it will halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025. It also plans to help collect and process more plastic packing than it sells.

Unilever, owner of major brands including Dove and Lipton, has announced ambitious new commitments to reduce its plastic waste. The international consumer goods company intends to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025 by reducing its use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and increasing its use of recycled plastic.

“Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment,” said Unilever CEO Alan Jope. “We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle.”

Unilever is already on track to achieve its existing commitments to ensure that all its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, but its latest announcement make it the first global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio.

“This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products,” Jope added. “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.”

The latest commitments will also see Unilever work towards creating a circular economy for plastics by helping to collect and process around 600,000 tonnes of plastic annually by 2025. It plans to achieve this by investing and partnering in waste collection and processing in many of the countries in which it operates and participating in extended producer responsibility schemes where it will directly play for the collection of its packaging.

Unilever has been transforming its approach to plastic packaging since 2017 and is now known for market innovations such as shampoo bars, refillable toothpaste tablets, cardboard deodorant sticks and bamboo toothbrushes. It has also been collaborating with partners in India, Indonesia and Brazil over the last five years to help people recycle plastic packaging by establishing waste banks or drop-off stations.

Image credit: Superkitina via Unsplash

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