Unilever factories to be 'zero waste' by 2015

24th January 2013


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IEMA

Consumer goods giant Unilever has brought forward its waste reduction goals by five years, after revealing that half of its factories are already zero-waste

In November 2010, Unilever – which owns brands such as Persil, Knorr and Dove – set a 2020 target to keep its total waste footprint at or below 2008, while doubling the size of the business.

The firm has now brought the deadline forward to 2015, after confirming that, in 2012, 130 of its 252 plants worldwide diverted all non-hazardous waste from landfill.

Cutting waste created in factories, and greater recycling and recovery of materials have contributed to this achievement, and saved Unilever €70 million a year in waste disposal costs.

The zero waste to landfill success was also achieved without any capital expenditure, and were realised at the same time as sales of Unilever products increased by more than 27%.

Tony Dunnage, Unilever’s eco-efficiency manager said the firm’s achievements in 2012 confirm it is possible for businesses to decouple their environmental impacts from growth.

“This is a significant achievement [and] a great example of how we are putting our sustainability strategy into action,” he said. “This landmark demonstrates how our factories are more environmentally responsible, which is helping us to save money to invest in our business.”

Unilever’s 11 UK factories achieved zero waste to landfill in 2011, and every new factory the company builds is designed to produce half the waste of those built five years ago, and to divert all non-hazardous waste from landfill.

The firm has also developed new routes for recycling and reusing waste, including sending waste perforated tea bags from its Russian plants to be sold as animal bedding.

Unilever says its “design once and deploy everywhere” approach, enables it to share best practice across its global operations and throughout its supply chain.

The company’s decision to ramp up its waste diversion ambitions came just days after its Dutch division was named a global leader in sustainability in the food sector in the RobecoSAM sustainability yearbook.

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