Urgent action is needed to tackle the plastic pollution crisis. That’s why on 6 March Unilever signed the European Plastics Pact – an initiative that brings together governments, NGOs and business to accelerate progress towards a circular economy where plastic is repurposed and reused rather than simply discarded.

The public–private coalition sees 15 governments and over 70 companies and organisations join forces in pledging to avoid plastic waste across their value chains.

All participants have committed to hit four bold targets by 2025, and progress will be monitored and reported upon annually.

Here’s a little more about those goals, and how they compare to the ambitions we already have in place across Unilever:

1. Participants will design all plastic packaging and single-use plastic products placed on the market to be reusable where possible, and in any case recyclable.

Back in 2017, we made a commitment to ensure that 100% of our plastic packaging will be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and we’re making steady progress.

2. Participants will move towards a more responsible use of plastic packaging and single-use plastic products, aiming to reduce virgin plastic products and packaging by at least 20% by weight, with half of this reduction coming from an absolute reduction in plastics.

At Unilever we have already pledged to halve the amount of virgin plastic in our packaging by the same deadline. We are doing so by reducing our absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerating the use of recycled plastic.

3. Increase the collection, sorting and recycling capacity by at least 25 percentage points, and reach a level that corresponds to market demand for recycled plastics.

In 2019, we pledged to help collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell by 2025.

4. Increase the use of recycled plastics in new products and packaging, achieving an average of at least 30% recycled plastics (by weight) in product and packaging ranges.

In 2017, we pledged to increase the amount of recycled plastic in our packaging to at least 25% by 2025. We want to use far more PCR plastic in the future and recapture our own packaging, and we’re working with partners across our supply chain to explore this.

“The launch of the European Plastics Pact is a clear signal from Unilever and other signatories that we are ready to move faster towards a circular economy for plastics,” says Hanneke Faber, President, Global Foods & Refreshment, Unilever.

“We are confident this initiative will help us to find new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic packaging to meet our ambitious Unilever commitments. Now let’s go and deliver.”

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