Multinational Corporation Unilever Announces Plan To Cut Plastic Use In Half By 2025

In a major win for environmental advocates, Unilever, the parent company of major brands such as Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, just announced an ambitious plan to cut plastics use by half in the next six years.

As a company, Unilever produces 700,000 tons of plastic every year, a lot of which ultimately ends up in the ocean, where it kills wildlife and contaminates the food chain.

The world currently faces a plastics crisis that threatens to bury us. Even the most remote places on Earth have been contaminated.

In an effort to clean up the world and propel itself into the future, Unilever is taking action.

“There is a lot of plastic pollution in the environment. And the fact of the matter is — too much of it carries our name,” the company told CNN in a statement.

Indeed, Unilever’s portfolio includes ice cream, beauty products, skincare and cleaning agents, just to name a few. It’s one of the oldest multinational corporations and sells products in 190 nations.

In short, it has a huge presence around the world, and that comes with a large carbon footprint.

And because the company has been around for so long, it recognizes that if it wants to continue being around, it has to change the way it produces products. They know that their products pile on to the plastic waste already in the environment, and they want to do something about it.

“Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment. We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle,” CEO Alan Jope said in a press release. “Our starting point has to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources. We are also committed to ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.”

“This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products,” Jope continued. “It requires us to introduce new and innovative packaging materials and scale up new business models, like re-use and re-fill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity.”

The company already offers a refillable deodorant stick, and it’s likely even more such products are on the way.

Unilever plans to cut its plastic use in half to 350,000 tons by 2025. And the company hopes others will follow their lead.

“Our vision is a world in which everyone works together to ensure that plastic stays in the economy and out of the environment,” Jope said. “Our plastic is our responsibility and so we are committed to collecting back more than we sell, as part of our drive towards a circular economy. This is a daunting but exciting task which will help drive global demand for recycled plastic. This is part of responding to society but also remaining relevant for years to come in the market.”

The company is already drawing praise from Greenpeace, but the group also cautioned that the move is not enough and urged Unilever to eliminate single-use plastics entirely.

“While this is a step in the right direction, Unilever’s continued emphasis on collection, alternative materials, and recycled content will not result in the systemic shift required to solve the growing plastic pollution problem,” Greenpeace said in a statement. “We encourage Unilever to prioritize its efforts upstream by redesigning single-use plastic and packaging out of its business model.”

Every company on the planet can certainly do more to help clean up the environment. But at least Unilever is trying to do something. More definitely needs to be done, but this is a major step that will hopefully remove 350,000 tons of plastic from where it does not belong. That’s a victory, and one that will have a positive impact as more companies follow suit.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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