Unilever North America is picking up the pace on recycled content use through several new initiatives. The company wants to reach 50% recycled content in their plastic packaging by the end of 2019.
This week Unilever North America president Amanda Sourry shared the target of having 50% of the plastic used in packaging come from post-consumer recycled content this year. The commitment reduces virgin plastic in packaging, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and creates an end-market for recycled packaging in North America, the company says. Globally, Unilever seeks to have 25% recycled content on average in packaging by 2025.
Sourry also announced plans for improved recycling instructions and a shopper education program in partnership with Walmart.
Unilever North America plans to add How2Recycle labels with clear recycling instructions on all of their packaging by the end of 2021. The company has been working with the program on the labels, but now the use of them will become standard in North America.
The Walmart Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting on Wednesday showcased how the company, its suppliers, and environmental NGOs are improving sustainability performances across global value chains. Sourry said at the event that Unilever North America had formed a partnership with Walmart for a shopper education program called “Bring it to the Bin” set to launch later this year.
Both companies will collaborate on creating in-store and online consumer education around recycling for the program. In addition, they aim to incentivize customers about recycling all packaging, including for bathroom products.
“These Unilever initiatives are important steps, but we can’t create a circular economy for plastic packaging in isolation,” Sourry said. “We need collective action to tackle the problem at the source by working with forward-thinking companies like Walmart, advocating for systemic change in government and recycling facilities, working closely with plastics suppliers, and educating consumers.”
Globally, Unilever reports making progress toward their packaging goals since 2010. Milestones include decreasing packaging weight by 18%, reducing the total waste footprint per consumer by 31%, and keeping packaging volumes flat despite portfolio growth.
The 4th Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 13 – 15, 2019 in Denver. Learn more here.