Unilever and Veolia have announced a collaboration agreement to jointly work on emerging technologies that will help create a circular economy on plastics, across various geographies.
Starting in India and Indonesia, the work will focus on material collections, which will help channel recycled content “back into the value chain,” the companies say.
Veolia said it will work with Unilever to implement used packaging collection solutions, add recycling capacity and develop new processes and business models in various countries.
The companies refer to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which found that just 14% of the plastic packaging used globally is collected for recycling after use, with 40% ending up in landfill and 32% leaking out of the collection system.
In 2017, Unilever made a commitment to ensure that all its plastic packaging will be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To help create an end market for this material, the company also committed to increase the recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% by 2025.
Unilever and Veolia acknowledge that the issue of plastic waste “is a shared responsibility that requires bold action across the value chain,” to develop and scale up collection and reprocessing infrastructure.
Commenting on the partnership, Marc Engel, Unilever’s chief supply chain officer, 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.”
Laurent Auguste, senior executive vice-president of Veolia for development, innovation and markets, added: “There is an undeniable need to transform the current way plastic packaging end of life is managed in order to reduce significantly its environmental footprint. 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”.