Single use plastic ban gains momentum: HUL changes packaging of multiple products

HUL (Hindustan Unilever Limited) recently changed its bestselling Pond’s talc packaging by adding a curve. It was assumed it was to break the monotony since the company had been using the same cylindrical shape for decades now. But the main reason behind it was to save 1/3 of the plastic that went into the production of each pack.

It was also discovered that HUL had now removed the plastic layer from inside of its bestselling Dove soap’s cartons. The soap now lay bare inside the carton box which in return have saved the British-Dutch giant HUL cut down on use of its single-use plastic.

Looking at this, recently, HUL’s parent company Unilever, launched an intensive effort to reduce the use of plastic globally. As the global population raises their voice against plastic waste, company is aiming to cut down its use of virgin plastic by half by the year 2025. Unilever is aiming to recycle more plastic than the company uses in coming years. Company is currently uses 7,00,000 tons of plastic annually and hopes to cut down on 1,00,000 tons by changing the packaging material and design of its products.

Unilever can be seen partnering with plastic recyclers and collectors in most of the developed countries along with developing economies like India to collect and process around 6,00,000 tons of plastic per year.

War on plastic: What other firms are doing

ITC

100% Packaging that is reusable, recyclable, or compostable over the next decade

Coca-Cola India

5 million children and teachers in 20,000 schools to be made aware; over 35,000 waste management workers involved

Dabur India

20 million kilos Plastic waste collected, processed and recycled by March 2021

Flipkart

25% Cut in single-use plastic since August; to consume only recycled plastics from 2021

Amazon

0 Single-use plastic in packaging from June 2020

Unilever’s CEO Alan Jope said, the design is the preliminary point of this project. He added, ‘Reducing the amount of plastic we use and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources is the goal. We are also committed to ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative packaging materials and scale up new business models, like reuse and refill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity’.

Since the year 2010, Unilever, on a global level, has already reduced its plastic waste by a third. Unilever launched its ‘Less Plastic’ initiative, wherein it explores new packaging and delivery methods where product’s life and quality remains intact, the initiative includes concentrates such as Cif Eco Refill that abolishes 75% of plastic. Unilever’s been installing its ‘refill station’ across Universities, Mobile vending outlets, and shops for laundry detergents and shampoos across Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, there’s a ‘No Plastic’ project that’s been undertaken by Unilever in which it researches and develops innovative products. This projects has brought products like refillable toothpaste tablets, bamboo toothbrushes, cardboard deodorant sticks, and shampoo bars.

Unilever has also signed up to the Loop Platform that explores new techniques of collecting and delivering the reusable products directly from consumers’ homes. Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s founder Ellen MacArthur said, Unilever is currently working on projects which involves eradicating needless packaging via innovations like refills, concentrates, and reuse. She added, ‘These measures are increasing their use of recycled plastic’.

The foundation works closely with corporates and institutes to shift towards a circular economy, which means, making sure plastic circulates rather than used once and discarded or seeped into the nature) through waste management. HUL has launched projects in 20 cities like Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Delhi. For instance, in Maharashtra, HUL runs a project with NGOs wherein they educate and mobilise children at over 1,000 schools to shrink plastic pollution. In 2018 alone, HUL with its partnership with various NGOs and start-ups in over 20 cities collected, separated and safely disposed of over 20,000 tons of plastic laminates. HUL is trying to scale this operation by covering more cities, plus, it is working with government and UN Development Programme for end-to-end plastic waste management pilot projects.

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