Lipton Tea Facility in Suffolk, Virginia achieves zero-landfill goal

City of Suffolk and Southeastern Public Service Authority Applaud Significant Accomplishment by Country’s Largest Tea Processing Facility

Suffolk, VA, September 22, 2009 – Unilever, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, announced today that its Lipton Tea manufacturing plant in Suffolk, Virginia, the largest tea processing facility in the United States, has achieved its goal of becoming a “zero-landfill” facility. The Suffolk plant sends no waste to landfills by processing all of its waste through its aggressive recycling and composting programs and converting some of it into usable energy.

“The City of Suffolk greatly values its 55-year relationship with the Lipton Tea facility, and has long recognized the Unilever and Lipton business strategy as a leading example in manufacturing excellence and corporate responsibility,” said Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson. “This latest effort not only keeps the Suffolk facility efficient and thriving, but eco-friendly as well; all involved should be commended.”

"Lipton's commitment to keeping waste out of landfills is a standard-setter in our community. It's great for the environment and contributes to saving valuable space in our community’s landfills," said Tom Kreidel, Southeastern Public Service Authority public relations coordinator. “By creating usable energy from waste that cannot be recycled we have not only helped Lipton reach its zero-landfill goal but have helped process more than half of the region’s non-recyclable waste.”

The Suffolk plant’s achievement of its zero-landfill goal is the latest sustainability-focused initiative from Lipton. Earlier this year, the brand announced a commitment to source all of its tea for its tea bags from Rainforest Alliance Certified-farms by 2015 and has operated a sustainable tea cultivation estate in Kericho, Kenya since 2007.

“We are proud to add yet another asset to the Lipton sustainability profile, helping to make the brand even ‘greener’ from leaf to cup,” said Ted Narozny, Suffolk plant manager. “Our efforts are an extension of the overall commitment we at Unilever have – ‘doing well by doing good.’ In addition to further reducing our environmental impact, we are also able to save in operating costs – another benefit of doing well by doing good.”

The team at the Lipton Suffolk facility began taking steps to achieve its zero-landfill goal more than a year ago, forming partnerships with Sonoco, a global packaging and recycling leader that offers recycling consulting services through its Sonoco Sustainability Solutions (S3) program; 

With McGill Composting to help convert bio waste into compost, some of which is reused in an environmentally acceptable way as soil, fertilizer and mulch on the Suffolk facility’s own grounds; and with the Southeastern Public Service Authority’s waste-to-energy facility, to turn some waste into usable energy to provide steam for the U.S. Navy's largest shipyard in nearby Portsmouth, Va., along with creating electricity that is sold through the electrical grid.

With other progressive new waste management procedures in place – including eliminating plastic strapping on pallets, replacing non-recyclable cleaning wipes with reusable rags, and choosing sturdier, reusable plastic pallets over traditional wooden ones – 70 percent of the plant’s waste is recycled or reused; 22 percent is composted; and the remaining eight percent is converted into usable energy.

The Lipton facility’s achievement also allows the plant team to conserve:

  • 16 tons of plastic, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 13.76 tons
  • 21,182 mature trees, the equivalent of 262 million sheets of newspaper
  • 576,898 gallons of oil, enough to heat and cool 2,856 homes for a year
  • 29,904 gallons of gasoline, enough to drive more than 837,000 miles in the average American car
  • 8,722,000 gallons of water, enough to meet the daily fresh water needs of 116,293 Americans
  • 5,108,600 kilowatt hours of electricity, or a year’s supply of power for more than 425 average homes
Unilever United States, Inc.

Unilever US, Inc
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