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Unilever unveils new technology to recycle sachet waste

Consumer goods maker Unilever has unveiled a new technology to tackle the worldwide issue of plastic sachet waste.

Unilever, along with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, developed the new technology, CreaSolv Process, based on an innovation used to recycle TV sets.

The technology has been adapted from a method used to separate brominated flame retardants from waste electrical and electronic equipment polymers.

Under the CreaSolv Process, the plastic will be recovered from the sachet, which can be used later to develop new sachets for Unilever products.

Unilever intends to make all of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, while currently only 14% of all plastic packaging is recycled across the globe.

According to Unilever, sachets are resource efficient and allow low-income consumers to buy small amounts of products.

Later this year, the company will open a pilot plant in Indonesia to test the long-term commercial viability of the new recycling technology.

Unilever is also planning to launch waste collection schemes to collect sachets for recycling, helping to deal with the industry-wide sachet waste issue.

At present, the firm is working with local waste banks, governments and retailers to expand the recycling activities.

Unilever chief R&D officer David Blanchard said: “Billions of sachets are used once and just thrown away, all over the world, ending up in landfill or in our waterways and oceans.

“At the start of this year we made a commitment to help solve this problem, developing new recycling technologies.”

Fraunhofer IVV plastic recycling department head Dr. Andreas Mäurer said: “Our aim is to prove the economic profitability and environmental benefits of the CreaSolv Process.”

Image: Unilever and Fraunhofer have developed new CreaSolv Process to recycle plastic sachet waste. Photo: courtesy of Unilever.