Unilever and Veolia signed an agreement on Thursday to work together on creating a circular economy for plastics starting in India and Indonesia. Under the three-year partnership, both companies plan to focus on material collection and moving recycled content back into the value chain.
Consumer goods company Unilever and resource management solutions provider Veolia Group say that plastic waste is a shared responsibility requiring action across the value chain to develop and scale up the collection and reprocessing infrastructure that’s critical in a circular economy.
Only 14% of the plastic packaging used globally gets collected for recycling after use, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported last year. Enormous amounts of plastic waste end up in the environment, resulting in a loss of $80 billion to $120 billion annually, the organization estimated.
“The scale of the plastic waste issue is getting worse, not better, with the production of plastics expected to double over the next two decades,” said Marc Engel, Unilever’s chief supply chain officer.
In 2017, Unilever committed to making sure all of the company’s plastic packaging would be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. In order to help spur an end market for the material, Unilever plans to increase the recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% during that timeframe.
Veolia has also established ambitious goals around plastic recycling. Last December the company announced plans to double plastic recycling from 250,000 metric tons to 500,000 by 2025.
“There is an undeniable need to transform the current way plastic packaging end-of-life is managed in order to reduce significantly its environmental footprint,” said Laurent Auguste, senior executive vice president of Veolia for Development, Innovation and Markets. “It will take a collaboration of a new kind between all the actors of the value chain.”