The FMCG giant recently committed to ensuring that all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
It has renewed its partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for another three years, and said it wanted to be fully part of the consumer goods industry’s transition to a circular plastics economy.
“What we mean by ‘recyclable’ is that it will be technically possible for our plastic packaging to be recycled and there are established, proven examples of it being commercially viable for plastics processors to recycle the material,” or a Unilever spokesperson told Packaging News.
Unilever said it was critical that governments ensure there is investment in infrastructure with comprehensive waste management systems in place, to encourage all generators of used products and packaging to favour recycling over disposal of materials.
It added that governments should:
– set challenging material specific recycling targets for municipalities
– make participating in recycling programs at least as easy or easier than disposing of materials
– harmonise collection schemes across the country to make it easier for consumers to recycle their packaging
“However, we recognise this is a shared responsibility and it will require everyone in the value chain to work together collaboratively to deliver it. We are committed to play our part.”
Unilever is involved in a number of workstreams – from open innovation challenges to progressing the development of a global plastics packaging protocol – working in partnership with its New Plastics Economy core partners Amcor, The Coca Cola Company, Danone, Mars, Novamont and Veolia and others.
The FMCG firm said that while certain parts of its portfolio are suited to compostability (teabags, filter paper etc) a leaves), it would always depend on the available infrastructure.
“Unilever will only place compostable plastic packaging into the market where there are appropriate infrastructure and facilities in place to process it, where decomposition has been proven to be effective and safe for health and the environment, and where there are no negative effects on existing reuse and recycling systems.”
Unilever added that it was encouraged to see packaging and materials suppliers change their approach.
“We have already seen the willingness of material and packaging suppliers to embrace change through their engagement and commitment to industry collaborations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s “New Plastics Economy”. As this agenda grows, we expect more of our valued partners to come on board and invest in finding lasting solutions.”
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