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Progress on Plastics: March 2019 Update


It is estimated that just 14% of plastic packaging used globally makes its way to recycling plants, a third is left in fragile ecosystems and 40% ends up in a landfill. While there is no silver bullet to fix this, we know the response from consumer goods industry is critical in determining the speed at which positive changes takes place.

Plastic bottles in a box

Globally, Unilever has an impactful strategy in place, and we are making significant strides against our goals:

  • Ensuring all plastic packaging is 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025
  • Using a minimum of 25% post-consumer recycled resin in our plastic packaging by 2025
  • Reducing packaging weight by one third by 2020

To meet our commitments, we have adopted a framework to shape our thinking and innovation: "Less Plastic, Better Plastic, No Plastic." These commitments span the globe, and we are making major strides in the U.S. in several areas:

Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) Plastics

We have ambitious goals for increasing our PCR use, and we are leading the way in support of our global targets. Several of our brands already use 100% PCR in their plastic bottles in the U.S., including Love Beauty and Planet, Love Home and Planet, ApotheCARE, and The Right to Shower. Other brands are making significant progress by including 25-50% PCR in some packages, including Suave, Dove Men+Care, AXE, Vaseline and Caress.

Eliminating Single Use Plastics

Ben & Jerry’s made a major commitment to “no plastics” this year by announcing it would remove single-use plastics from its Scoop Shops. The brand will no longer offer plastic straws or spoons in any of its 600 Scoop Shops worldwide early this year, and will address plastic cups and lids by the end of 2020.

Similarly, in the Unilever North America headquarters office as well as other locations we have taken steps to remove single use plastics. Small changes such as making use of metal silverware, ceramic coffee mugs, refillable water glasses, and paper straws are helping the cause.

Innovations in Packaging

We are also piloting bold new concepts in packaging. In January, Unilever joined Terracycle to launch Loop, a waste-free shopping platform, which in the U.S. will include eight Unilever brands: Axe, Dove, Degree, Hellmann’s, Love Beauty and Planet, Love Home and Planet, REN Clean Skincare, and Seventh Generation.

The Unilever initiatives are important steps, but we can't create a circular economy for plastic packaging in isolation. We need to collectively tackle the problem at the source. We can only do this by working with others to achieve a complete transformation of how we think, use and dispose of plastic. This includes other companies, retailers, governments, recycling facilities, plastics suppliers, and consumers.

More updates will be coming soon.

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