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Unilever is the first major consumer goods company in Australia and New Zealand to source high volumes of locally sourced, post-consumer recycled HDPE plastic for its locally made personal care bottles, Unilever said in a statement this week (2 March).

The company also said it was on track to achieve its existing 2025 commitments, which are to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and to use at least 25% recycled plastic across our packaging.

The company has committed to making it easier for recycling facilities to recycle traditionally difficult packaging by extending the use of detectable black pigment for HDPE plastic bottles this year. Unilever said the pigment makes it so its black plastic can be “seen” by recycling plant scanners and sorted for recycling. This means an additional 100 tonnes of plastic bottles can be sorted and sent for recycling each year in Australia. The pigment is already used in Unilever’s TRESemmé and Dove brands.

Another commitment for 2020 Unilever announced is to generate a new life for at least 380 tonnes of post-consumer Australian recycled plastic by working with suppliers Visy and Pact to use recycled content in its Dove, TRESemmé, Toni & Guy, Surf and OMO bottles. It also committed to using 375 tonnes of recycled plastic in imported brands.

And, finally, Unilever committed to this year encourage Australians to choose products with Australian recycled plastic packaging through investing in communication, retail partnerships, and clear on-pack logos that call out recycled plastic content.

Clive Stiff, CEO Unilever Australia and New Zealand said the company’s vision is a world in which everyone works together to ensure that plastic stays in the economy and out of the environment.

“We want to give Australians confidence that for each bottle of OMO, Dove, Surf, Toni & Guy, or TRESemmé they buy, they are giving a new lease on life to the plastic they recycle in their yellow bins. In short, our combined initiatives help to divert plastic away from landfill,” he said.

“As a consumer goods company, we are acutely aware of the consequences of a linear take-make-dispose model and we want to change it. We are proud to be taking these steps forward, but no business can create a circular economy in isolation.

“Creating a local market and demand for all types of recycled plastic is critical and heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters, and recyclers. We need a complete shift in how we think about and use resources.”

Unilever announced its global commitments in October to reduce plastic waste and to help create a circular economy for plastics. It said by 2025, it will:

  • halve its use of virgin plastic, by reducing absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerating its use of recycled plastic; and
  • help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.

Unilever said these commitments made it the first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio.

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