Unilever has urged the consumer goods industry to increase its efforts to fight the challenge of plastic pollution in the ocean and create a circular economy for plastics.
It has been one year since the company made its commitment to ensure 100% of its plastic packaging is fully recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
From this, 10 other companies, including Evian, M&S and Coca Cola, have made similar pledges.
Unilever chief executive Paul 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.”
According to Unilever, there are four key actions that the consumer goods industry should take in order to produce a change and allow a transition into a circular economy. These include:
- Companies to invest in innovation towards new delivery models that promote reuse
- For more companies to commit to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 and set targets for using post-consumer recycled content
- For a Global Plastics Protocol setting common agreed definitions and industry standards on what materials are put onto the market, to ensure packaging is compatible with existing and cost-effective recycling infrastructure
- For companies to positively get involved in policy discussions with governments on the need for improvement 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 among the most critical in determining the speed at which positive change takes place. We are at a critical juncture.”