Moving towards zero waste
Unilever said recently that more than half of all its factories have achieved the goal of sending no waste to landfills last year. This was achieved while the company reported annual sales of 51 billion euros - up from 40 billion euros when Unilever set out its new vision of doubling the size of its business while reducing its environmental impact and increasing its positive social impact.
Unilever has already reached the milestone of 100 per cent of sites sending zero waste to landfills in 18 countries. This achievement is equivalent to removing more than one million household bins of waste every year.
Over 130 Unilever factories across the world, from Costa Rica to Japan, send no non-hazardous waste to landfills. The key driver for this achievement is the elimination of waste in the factories. Waste is also reduced, reused, recycled and recovered. Under its Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever said that by 2020, total waste sent for disposal will be at or below 2008 levels - despite producing significantly higher volumes.
Unilever is now stretching the original target even further by bringing the 2020 commitment five years forward. A total of 252 factories across the world will not send any non-hazardous waste to landfills by end-2015.
Tony Dunnage, Unilever's eco-efficiency manager, said this is a significant achievement for Unilever as it makes progress towards reaching its ambitious sustainability goals.
"It's a great example of how we are putting our sustainability strategy into action - by decoupling the growth of our business from its environmental impact. Today's landmark demonstrates how our factories are more environmentally responsible, which is helping us to save money to invest in our business. Having over 130 sites not sending waste to landfills equates to a cost saving of almost 70 million euros, all achieved without the need for capital expenditure."
Unilever is implementing best practices from all over the world, actively using the global supply chain network, to create more environmentally responsible factories. By using the "design once and deploy everywhere" philosophy, the company is driving a sustainable model that is good for the environment and saves costs. Every new factory will produce 50 per cent less waste than five years ago and will not send any non-hazardous waste to landfills by design.
Where reduction of waste is not sufficient, it will reuse, recover or recycle waste to reach zero waste to landfill. For example, in Russia, Unilever collects a few tonnes of perforated outer-tea bags annually and this is sold in pet shops as animal bedding or used for wallpaper or other uses.
In Hefei, China, Unilever reduced plastic to wrap boxes on pallets by replacing it with reusable elastic fabrics. - The Nation