One of the world's largest consumer packaged goods companies is making a big push toward more sustainable plastic packaging.
Unilever, owner of many well-known brands such as Dove, Axe and Hellmann's, wants to make sure all plastic packaging the company uses is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, the firm said.
Unilever's CEO made it clear that plastic material is important for the company.
“Our plastic packaging plays a critical role in making our products appealing, safe and enjoyable for our customers. Yet it is clear that if we want to continue to reap the benefits of this versatile material, we need to do much more as an industry to help ensure it is managed responsibly and efficiently post consumer-use,” said CEO Paul Polman in a statement.
Unilever said its 2025 commitment involves ensuring that “it is technically possible for its plastic packaging to be reused or recycled and there are established, proven examples of it being commercially viable for plastics reprocessors to recycle the material.”
The company also is asking other companies in the fast-moving consumer goods industry to help make progress toward a circular economy.
Unilever is renewing membership in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which has gained traction with its drive to capture more plastics for reuse and divert the material from disposal through its New Plastics Economy initiative. The foundation has reported only 14 percent of all global plastic packaging is recycled.
Unilever, as part of its work with the foundation and its initiative, said it will publish what it calls a full palette of the plastics the company uses in packaging by 2020.
“By committing to ambitious circular economy goals for plastic packaging, Unilever is contributing to tangible system change and sends a strong signal to the entire fast-moving consumer goods industry. Combining upstream measures on design and materials with post-use strategies demonstrates the system-wide approach that is required to turn the New Plastics Economy into reality,” MacArthur said in a statement.
Unilever previously revealed plans to reduce packaging weight by one third by 2020 and increase recycled plastic content by at least 25 percent by 2025 compared with 2015 numbers.
Part of the company's work is finding a way to recycle “multi-layer sachets,” or pouches, and then sharing that solution with the industry. This work is particularly important for coastal areas to help keep these plastics from entering oceans, Unilever said.