Unilever makes commitment to fully recyclable plastic packaging

Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant Unilever will switch to 100% recyclable plastic packaging by 2025.

The manufacturer announced on Saturday a commitment to ensuring that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable.

“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,” Unilever said.

Figures from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggest that just 14% of the plastic packaging used worldwide is sent to recycling plants, while 40% goes to landfill and a third ends up in fragile ecosystems.

As part of its efforts over the coming years, Unilever plans to invest in proving, and then sharing with the industry, a technical solution to recycle multi-layered sachets.

Unilever has already committed to reduce the weight of the packaging it uses 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. In 2015, the company achieved its commitment of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across its manufacturing operations.

Unilever is also enhancing its green credentials by reducing carbon emissions across its operations.

The company announced last week the signing of a deal to use biomethane at five of its sites in the UK and Ireland.

Effective from 1 January 2017, Unilever UK & Ireland’s offices in Leatherhead (Surrey) and 100 Victoria Embankment (London), and its food and drink factories in Norwich, Trafford Park and Cork, will use by 10,000 MWh of biomethane to power their heating.

With existing electricity supplies already coming from certified renewable sources, the purchase of a certified supply of bioemethane means that Unilever has become carbon neutral (from energy sources) at these five sites, the company explained.

The biomethane is produced by renewable energy provider GENeco’s anaerobic digester in Avonmouth, which converts inedible food waste and sewage into energy.