Consumer goods giant Unilever and Veolia have formed a partnership to enhance waste collection and recycling infrastructure to help create a circular economy for plastics waste.
Under the three-year collaboration agreement, Unilever and Veolia will jointly work on emerging technologies that will help create a circular economy on plastics across several geographies, beginning in India and Indonesia.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 14% of the plastic packaging used worldwide makes its way to recycling facilities, while 40% ends up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems. It is estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.
Unilever is planning to make sure that all of its plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
The company has already committed to reduce the weight of the packaging it uses this decade by one third by 2020, and increase the use of recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% by 2025.
Unilever chief supply chain officer Marc Engel said: “The scale of the plastic waste issue is getting worse, not better, with the production of plastics expected to double over the next two decades.
“We all have a lot more to do to address this critical issue and we hope that by partnering with Veolia, a world leader in waste management, we can take meaningful strides towards a circular economy.”
Unilever and Veolia will focus on material collection, which will help move recycled content back into the value chain.
Under the partnership, the companies will implement used packaging collection solutions, add recycling capacity and develop new processes and business models in several countries.
Veolia senior executive vice-president for development, innovation and markets Laurent Auguste said there is an undeniable need to transform the existing way plastic packaging end of life is managed in order to reduce significantly its environmental footprint.
Auguste said: “It will take a collaboration of a new kind between all the actors of the value chain. With this global partnership, Veolia and Unilever join forces in various geographies around the globe and, from the collection to the recycling, take a leadership role to redefine a responsible and sustainable future for packaging.”