Unilever to cut virgin plastic use in half

8th October 2019 | Recycling

Unilever has announced plans to cut its use of virgin plastics in half by 2025 in a move which could help boost global demand for recycled material. The consumer goods giant – which owns brands including Dove and Ben & Jerry’s – yesterday (7 October) committed to reducing its use of plastic packaging by 100,000 tonnes across its entire portfolio over the next five years and accelerating its use of plastic.

In addition, the company said it would help to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells. The announcement comes as pressure builds on packaging producers and retailers to cut down on packaging amid growing public concern about the environment and government plans to make producers pay more towards the cost of recycling waste packaging. A consultation on this extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging was launched in February.


Unilever said it was already on track to achieve its existing commitments to ensure all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging, also by 2025. Alan Jope, chief executive at Unilever, described the move as “radical” and pointed to the development of more reuse and refills. He said, “Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment. We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle.

“Our starting point hast to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use, and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources. We are also committed to ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable. This is a daunting but exciting task which will help drive global demand for recycled plastic. This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative packaging materials and scale up new business models, like re-use and re-fills formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity.”

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