Marmite and Dove owner Unilever promises to halve plastic use

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Marmite-maker Unilever has announced it will cut it's plastic use to half. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Unilever (ULVR.L), one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, announced on Monday that it will slash the use of new plastics.

The group, which owns more than 400 brands, including Marmite, Dove, and Flora butter, said in a statement that it will halve its use of virgin plastic, “by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerating its use of recycled plastic.” It added that it will help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells, thereby creating a circular economy.

“Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment. We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle,” said Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever.

“Our starting point has to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use, and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources. 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.”

An employee arranges Unilever's margarine brands in a supermarket. Photo: Marco De Swart/AFP/Getty Images

Unilever’s pledge marks the first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction.

It said it is on track to ensure all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 — a commitment it previously made — and to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging, also by 2025.

Its move is the latest in a line of major companies that have promised to reduce its use of plastics.

Last month, major UK grocer Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) said it will sell milk and fizzy drinks in returnable glass bottles while Tesco (TSCO.L) will eventually ban brands that use “excessive” plastic packaging.