One year after Unilever made its commitment to ensure 100% of its plastic packaging was fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, CEO Paul Polman praised news that 10 consumer goods companies have made similar pledges. He urged more to step forward to accelerate the industry’s progress toward the circular economy and address plastic leakage into the world’s natural systems including waterways and oceans.
Polman said: “It is welcome news that many other major companies are making their own commitments to address ocean plastic waste. Yet as a consumer goods industry, we need to go much further, much faster, in addressing the challenge of single use plastics by leading a transition away from the linear take-make-dispose model of consumption, to one which is truly circular by design.”
Unilever believes there are four key actions necessary. Companies need to: invest in innovation in reuse; commit to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 and set stretching targets for using post-consumer recycled content; have a Global Plastics Protocol setting common agreed definitions and industry standards on what materials are put into the marketplace; and engage positively in policy discussions with governments on the need for improvements to waste management infrastructure, including the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.
Polman added: “Addressing the issue of ocean plastic is a shared responsibility–all stakeholders in the value chain must work together in partnership to find effective solutions. However, there is no doubt that the response from the consumer goods industry will be amongst the most critical in determining the speed at which positive change takes place. We are at a critical juncture.”