Also, as part of the environmental pledge, the firm has said it will help collect and process more plastic packaging than its sells by the same time period. This will include the use of around 600,000t of plastic a year, with no more than 350,000t of virgin plastic.
Unilever will attempt this by strengthening innovation in new business models, such as reusable and refillable packaging. It will also drive action around no plastic solutions, including ‘naked’ products.
“We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the cycle,” said Unilever CEO Alan Jope.
“This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative materials, and scale up new business models, like reuse and refill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity.
“Our vision is a world in which everyone works together to ensure that plastic stays in the economy and out of the environment.
Daunting but exciting
“Our plastic is our responsibility, so we are committed to collecting back more than we sell, as part of our drive towards a circular economy. This is a daunting but exciting task, which will help drive global demand for recycled plastic.”
Ellen MacArthur, founder of environmental charity the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, added: “Today’s announcement by Unilever is a significant step in creating a circular economy for plastic.
“By eliminating unnecessary packaging through innovations such as refill, reuse and concentrates – while increasing their use of recycled plastic – Unilever is demonstrating how businesses can move away from virgin plastic.
“We urge others to follow their lead, so collectively we can eliminate the plastic we don’t need, and also innovate, so what we do need is circulated, and ultimately build an economic system where plastic packaging never becomes waste."
Meanwhile, recent data confirmed that Unilever had provided the lion’s share of £900m spent annually on research and development by the UK’s top 15 food processors.