Unilever Announces Plans to Overhaul Its Plastic Use, Saving 400,000 Tons from Landfills Each Year
The manufacturing giant, which oversees production of countless products from Ben & Jerry's ice cream to Lipton teas and Dove beauty products, announced it would slash its reliance on plastic by 2025.
Some of your favorite household products may soon leave less of a footprint on the Earth's ecological system. Unilever, a major producer of consumer-facing products in grocery stores and retail superstores across the nation, has announced it will half the amount of non-recycled plastic it uses in its products' manufacturing within the next five years, according to CNN. Currently, Unilever's brands produce more than 700,000 metric tons of plastic-based packaging annually.
Alan Jope, Unilever's CEO, told the Associated Press that an overhaul of the company's current practices is not an easy one; in addition to using more recycled plastics in place of newly minted materials, the company also will shed more than 100,000 tons of plastic across the board. Unilever also says it will collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells by the year 2025; the company says it will rethink some of its products to be sold "naked," or otherwise unpackaged.
This isn't the first time that Unilever has made headlines for pledging to reduce its strain on environmental resources. Recently, it agreed to participate in a new initiative known as Loop, spearheaded by recycling experts at TerraCycle, which allows shoppers to use refillable containers for products like ice cream to toothpaste. According to CNN, it also has created eco-friendly alternatives to everyday items, from bamboo-based toothbrushes to deodorant sticks housed in stainless steel chambers.
"Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment," Jope said in a company news statement. "We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle...It requires us to introduce new and innovative materials, and scale up new business models, like reuse and refill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity."
Unilever's latest commitment to harnessing recycled plastic in its production methods complements its other goals, including making all of its plastic packaging fully recyclable by 2025. The change would allow manufacturing experts to reduce the flow of single-use plastics into landfills and open waters; currently, nine million tons of plastic waste on average (including items like wrappings and bottles) end up in the world's oceans each year, meaning Unilever could be leading other manufacturers into stemming the issue altogether.