Unilever expects to double use of recycled plastics in next 12 months
Unilever has confirmed that 10% of its plastic footprint now consists of post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR), as the company pushes ahead to meet a target of halving the use of virgin plastic.
The consumer goods giant is striving to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025 by reducing plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes, increasing the amount of recycled plastics it uses and collecting and processing more plastic packaging than it sells.
One year on from setting the target Unilever has shared an update on its progress. Notably, Unilever has revealed that it has increased its use of PCR to around 75,000 tonnes, which accounts for 10% of the company’s total plastic footprint.
Unilever is aiming to use at least 25% PCR by 2025 and expects to double the amount it uses over the next 12 months.
Unilever’s chief executive Alan Jope said: “Throwaway culture and throwaway business models continue to dominate our lives and damage our planet. Despite challenging conditions, we must not turn our backs on plastic pollution. It is crucial that we – and the rest of the industry – stay the course, cut the amount of plastic we use, and rapidly transition to a circular economy.”
Notably, Unilever has trialled new innovations and packaging in an attempt to progress against its targets. The firm’s Magnum brand introduced plastic tubs consisting of recycled plastic across all its markets, a move that will see an estimated 160,000kg of certified recycled material used by the end of 2020 across Europe.
The progress update comes after a joint project hoping to scale-up chemical recycling for hard-to-recycle plastics waste, involving Unilever and synthetic fuel giant Neste, received a £3.1m grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Unilever will also use the findings of the joint project to inform the ways in which it is redesigning its plastics packaging in line with its sustainability targets.
Unilever recently unveiled plans to replace 100% of the carbon derived from fossil fuels in its cleaning and laundry products with captured, natural and recycled carbon within a decade as part of a Clean Future ambition.
It has kickstarted this process with the Persil brand, which has launched a liquid formulation made from plant-based stain removers and biodegradable ingredients that will be packaged in fully recyclable bottles made from 50% post-consumer recycled plastic.
Funding for the process of transitioning away from fossil-fuel-based carbon will be allocated from Unilever’s €1bn Climate and Nature fund, unveiled earlier this summer.