Unilever has committed to ensuring that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
In a statement on 14 January, the company said it would renew its membership of the circular economy charity Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) for another three years and support their new plastics economy initiative.
As part of this, it will publish the full “palette” of plastics materials used in its packaging by 2020 to help create a plastics protocol for the industry.
The company will additionally be investing in proving a technical solution to recycle multi-layered sachets particularly for coastal areas, which it said are most at risk of plastics leaking into the ocean.
The company, said Unilever, will then share its findings with the industry.
Unilever has already committed to reducing the weight of its packaging this decade by one third by 2020, and increase its use of recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% by 2025 against a 2015 baseline.
Unilever specified its commitment to “ensure that by 2025, it is technically possible for its plastic packaging to be reused or recycled and there are established, proven examples of it being commercially viable for plastics re-processors to recycle the material”.
“If we want to continue to reap the benefits of this versatile material [plastics], we need to do much more as an industry to help ensure it is managed responsibly and efficiently post-consumer-use,” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO.
Polman also encouraged other players in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry to “make collective progress” towards circular economy and using fully recycled and recyclable plastic packaging.
According to the EMF, just 14% of the plastic packaging used globally makes its way to recycling plants, while 40% ends up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems.
“By 2050, it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans,” said Unilever citing the EMF.