Consumer goods company Unilever has committed to using only 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025, according to a statement.
Unilever said that 'treating plastic packaging as a valuable resource to be managed efficiently and effectively' is a key priority in adapting to a circular economy, rather than a 'take-make-dispose' consumption model.
The release cited data from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF), which stated that only 14% of global plastic packaging reaches recycling plants, while 40% is dumped into landfill and a third ends up in fragile ecosystems.
By 2050, it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans.
In addition, the company pledged to continue its membership with the foundation, and support the EMF's New Plastics Economy initiative, which will require it to publish all plastic materials used in its packaging by 2020 to help create a plastics 'protocol' for the industry.
It has also committed to allocating funds to find a technical solution for recycling multi-layered sachets, especially in coastal regions.
Previous sustainability initiatives by the company include the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which commits to reducing the weight of packaging material it uses by one-third by 2020, and to using at least 25% recycled plastic content by 2025 (using a 2015 baseline).
In 2015, it fulfilled its goal of eliminating non-hazardous waste sent to landfill by its manufacturing facilities.
Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, said: "Our plastic packaging plays a critical role in making our products appealing, safe and enjoyable for our consumers. Yet it is clear that if we want to continue to reap the benefits of this versatile material, we need to do much more as an industry to help ensure it is managed responsibly and efficiently post consumer-use.
"To address the challenge of ocean plastic waste we need to work on systemic solutions - ones which stop plastics entering our waterways in the first place. We hope these commitments will encourage others in the industry to make collective progress towards ensuring that all of our plastic packaging is fully recyclable and recycled".
Yoghurt producer Danone has also agreed to join the EMF in its quest to achieve a ‘circular economy’, the charity said in a statement.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.