UK – Unilever has called for the consumer goods industry to step-up its efforts to tackle the mounting challenge of ocean plastic waste and create a circular economy for plastics.
CEO Paul Polman confirmed that the company has made plans to keep the industrial environments safe a year after Unilever made its industry-leading commitment to ensure 100% of its plastic packaging was fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
He also urged more to step forward to accelerate the industry’s progress towards the circular economy and address plastic leakage into the world’s natural systems including waterways and oceans.
Research conducted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) has found that the equivalent of one dumper truck’s worth of plastic enters the oceans every minute, and by 2050 it forecasts there could be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish.
“It is welcome news that many other major companies are making their own commitments to address ocean plastic waste.
Yet as a consumer goods industry, we need to go much further, much faster, in addressing the challenge of single use plastics by leading a transition away from the linear take-make-dispose model of consumption, to one which is truly circular by design,” said Polman.
Unilever also believes that there should be Global Plastics Protocol setting with common agreed definitions and industry standards on what materials are put into the marketplace, to ensure the packaging is compatible with existing and cost-effective recycling infrastructures.
Additionally, it said that companies should engage positively in policy discussions with governments on the need for improvements to waste management infrastructure, including the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.
Unilever has made good progress on reducing its waste footprint.
Since 2010, the waste associated with the disposal of its products has decreased by 28% and the weight of its packaging has reduced by 15%.
The company also stopped sending non-hazardous waste to landfill from its manufacturing sites in 2015.
Alongside its commitment to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025, Unilever pledged to source 25%of its resin from post-consumer recycled content by 2025, and to publish its full plastics palette before 2020.