Unilever joins On-Pack Recycling Label scheme to boost plastics recycling

Unilever has joined the On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) scheme to promote the recyclability of its products to consumers, while a six-month trial of clean-cold technology in the company's ice cream transportation trucks has delivered cost-effective environmental benefits.

Unilever UK has today (25 April) announced its membership of the OPRL scheme, developed by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) in partnership with WRAP, which seeks to make it easier for consumers to know what packaging is recyclable.

The OPRL will be added to numerous Unilever UK brands during 2018, to help households recycle more packaging material. It builds on Unilever’s aim to ensure that 100% of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Unilever’s sustainable business and communications director Yvette Edwards said: “We know that recycling and the wider issue of plastic waste is important to the people who buy our products. Our membership of OPRL moves us further in the right direction by providing recycling guidance that is simple, clear and consistent.

“With our presence in 98% of UK homes, we can be part of the solution to improving recycling rates across the nation.”

The OPRL label is recognised by almost three-quarters of consumers and educates them on what can be recycled as part of kerbside collections and what should be taken to council recycling centres.

Cold collaboration

In related news, Unilever has this week released the findings of six-month trial in the Netherlands, which explored the viability of using a zero-emissions transport refrigeration unit.

Between June and December 2017, Unilever used a refrigeration truck powered by liquid nitrogen to collect and deliver Ben & Jerry’s and Ola ice cream across the Netherlands.

The Dearman model travelled more than 18,000km during the trials, spending 661 hours on the road. The vehicle reduced carbon emissions by 600kg per month compared to a conventional diesel system and eliminated all nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions – which delivered a positive impact on local air quality.

“Reducing the environmental impact of our logistics network is an integral part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and our goal is to make sure that our transport and distribution systems are as green as possible,” Unilever’s vice president for logistics in Europe Raghuraman Ramakrishnan said.

“We are committed to advancing sustainable solutions in logistics and leveraging new technologies once they become commercially available, in order to achieve this.”

Unilever noted that the technology is not commercially available yet, but Dearman claims the system was cost comparable to existing diesel systems. The Dearman engine has been backed by £6m of grants from the UK Government.

Sainsbury’s has been trialling the engine and Dearman expects commercial rollouts to commence in the UK later this year.

Matt Mace

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