Unilever Commits to 100% Recyclable Plastic packaging
Author: Brad Gray
Unilever, one of the world's largest grocery companies, has committed to ensuring that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. It has also called on the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry to accelerate progress towards the circular economy.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), just 14% of the plastic packaging used globally makes its way to recycling plants, while 40% ends up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems. The Australian Packaging Covenant reports the recycling rate for post-consumer plastic packaging in Australia is around 40%.
Architect and circular economy leader William McDonough says the cradle to cradle redesign of packaging is one of the great global design challenges of our time - similar to scaling renewable energy to address climate change.
Unilever, responsible for brands as diverse as Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream to Sunsilk Shampoo, have identified treating plastic packaging as a valuable resource to be managed efficiently and effectively as a key priority in achieving their Sustainable Development Goals, shifting away from a “take-make-dispose” model of consumption to one which is fully circular.
To help transform their 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
In 2015, it achieved its commitment of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across its manufacturing operations. In recognition of this and other initiatives Unilever Australia received the APC award for Outstanding Achievement in Recycling.
Unilever has already committed to reduce by one third the weight of the packaging it uses by 2020. In 2015 their Australian operations redesigned the 500ml Lipton Ice Tea bottle, saving 343 tonnes of PET and 60 tonnes of polypropylene a year.
The company’s activities are guided by the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
The recycling rate for post-consumer plastic around the world has room for improvement. You can
- Visit RecyclingNearYou to find out what your council recycles.
- If you’ve purchased an item in plastic packaging while away from home look for a public place recycling bin or take the item home to recycle.
Brad was Planet Ark's Head of Campaigns for 10 years. He trained and worked as a history and geography teacher before moving into the health education sector for 14 years. With a strong passion for human environments, Brad started with Planet Ark in 2007 as Recycling Programs Manager.
- Packaging industry moves towards better plastic recycling outcomes »
- A sustainable future for fashion »
- Trading trash for a hot cuppa »
- Everyday Enviro with Elise - Small changes with big impact »
- War on Waste is back! »
- How Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is part of the solution to plastic pollution »
- The great story behind Lousy Ink »
- Kenyan business Ocean Sole is flipping the flop from waste to art »
- Scientists discover enzyme that breaks down plastic »
- Reusable sponge that soaks up oil spills »
- Super coral to resist ocean warming »
- Nestlé to go fully reusable and recyclable by 2025 »
- Woolworths, Coles remove plastic bags from stores ahead of schedule »
- The 'queen of green steel' launches landmark e-waste microfactory »
- True colours - how simple bin changes cut waste at ANZ Stadium »
- Dutch scientists developing smart app to measure water pollution »
- The Swedish fitness craze that's good for you and the environment »
- Victorian Government pitches in for councils facing recycling shutdowns »
- Guilt free tea-bags, frozen food and paper drinking straws »
- Planet Ark's flagship recycling info service is getting a makeover »
- Woolcool turns waste wool into insulation wonder »
- An innovative solution to the problem of ocean pollution »
- New South Wales Return and Earn Container Deposit Scheme hits 64 million returns »
- Cleaning up the Cove »
- Vanuatu bans plastic bags and polystyrene containers »
- A global commitment to clean oceans »
- Marine plastic pollution: a personal perspective »
- Plastics inspiration: reasons for hope »
- Planet Ark announced as Donation Partner for NSW Container Deposit Scheme »
- Doing well by doing good: a recipe for sustain-ability »
- Beyond plastic pollution: solutions for a small planet »
- Revolutionary eco-friendly furniture the way of the future »
- Victoria announces plastic bag ban »
- Sunshine Coast sisters launch Australian-first sustainability project »
- What do Smiths, Kathmandu and Jurlique have in common? »
- Hobart City Council going further to phase out plastic »
- Australia is one step closer to being plastic bag free »
- World's largest crop of tequila plant set to fuel green energy in far north Queensland »
- ABC's War on Waste creates unprecedented demand for sustainable coffee cups »
- 81-Year-Old Lebanese woman inspires a nation to recycle »
- Painting a Brighter Environmental Future »
- Shell Recycling - Big Gains From Small Things »
- Wriggly Solution To Plastic Pollution: The Caterpillar That Eats Plastic »
- 'Creature Compost' - Zoo Reduces Landfill and Generates Income »
- The Awful Truth About Nappies & Recycling »
- Seabin »
- This South Australian School Has Plans to Eliminate Campus Waste Bins in Seven Years »
- Australia's Biggest E-Waste Processing Plant to Open »
- Is the Supermarket of the Future Plastic Free? »
- These Googly-Eyed Garbage Gobblers Are Cleaning Our Waterways »
- New Technology Turns Beach Plastic into Treasure »
- Tokyo Set to Take Sydney's Green Olympic Medal »
- World's Biggest Beach Clean-up »
- Launch of Positive Environment News »