Unilever commits to halving use of new plastics

7th October 2019 

The company is behind popular brands such as Dove, Cif, Comfort and Sure, and uses some 700,000 tonnes of plastic each year.

Unilever has announced plans to curb the use of virgin plastic by designing environmentally friendly versions of its popular household products.

Such a change in approach could see the mammoth company shift towards making shampoo refill stations, cardboard deodorant sticks and toothpaste tablets a common occurrence at supermarkets, the Guardian reports.

Unilever owns a staggering amount of household and consumer goods brands, adding up to over 400 brands. Some of the more popular ones include Dove, Comfort, Sure, Axe/Lynx, Dior, Magnum and Lipton. Through its various brans Unilever uses 700,000 tonnes of plastic each year and has pledged to cut the amount in half by 2025.

The Guardian reports that to achieve this goal, it will need to cut its absolute usage by 100,000 tonnes. This will be achieved through a switch towards reusable packs, concentrated refills and using alternative materials, including recycled plastics in its containers. It also reportedly plans to collect more packaging in order to support the circular economy for recycled plastic.

Unilever CEO Alan Jope said that “plastic has its place but that place is not in the environment. Our starting point has to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use, and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources”.

Supermarkets in many parts of the world are attempting to tackle single-use plastic as awareness grows. Mr Jope told the press that Unilever was holistically rethinking its approach to packaging and product development.

“Our plastic is our responsibility and so we are committed to collecting back more than we sell, as part of our drive towards a circular economy. This is a daunting but exciting task which will help drive global demand for recycled plastic,” he said.

Unilever expected to be collecting and processing around 600,000 tonnes of plastic each year by 2025, equal to its reduced overall footprint. It plants to be using no more than 350,000 tonnes of virgin plastic.

In order to manage collections of waste, the company said it plans to invest in or form partnerships with waste handling organisations.

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