10 February, 2016: Unilever has reached a new industry-leading achievement of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across more than 600 sites, in 70 countries, including factories, warehouses, distribution centres and offices. Having identified the different non-hazardous waste streams in its operations Unilever has now found alternative routes for the waste from these sites.
In January 2015 Unilever announced that over 240 factories globally, including Australia, had achieved zero waste to landfill status. Replicating this zero waste model in other parts of its business, nearly 400 additional sites have now eliminated waste to landfill with Unilever’s Australian head office sites added to the list of achievements in 2015.
This has been achieved by continuing with the four ‘R’ approach of reducing, reusing, recovering or recycling, proving that waste can be seen as a resource with many alternative uses – from converting factory waste to building materials, to using organic waste for green energy generation in Australia.
Clive Stiff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Unilever Australia and New Zealand, said: “Unilever’s zero waste goal underpins our sustainable growth ambitions, as well as our commitment to become resource resilient and tackle climate change. Eliminating waste is one of our biggest global challenges and we are very pleased to be able to show that Unilever is leading the way.
“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last few years but we know there is still more to do to inspire a wide-scale movement and create a brighter future for our planet. We’d like to see businesses across Australia & New Zealand to commit to a zero waste model and work towards solutions that will enable us to be more resource efficient. Collaboration is key to tackling this unprecedented challenge.”
Unilever’s ground-breaking achievements to reduce waste from its Australian operations are not going unnoticed with the company being named a winner at the 2015 NSW Office of the Environment & Heritage Green Globe Awards. Unilever was also recognised at the Australian Packaging Covenant Awards for its efforts to use more sustainable packaging materials.
Unilever’s priority is to continually reduce waste and embrace circular models. As well as maintaining zero waste status at these 600 locations, work continues to bring all sites in line, including all future site openings and acquisitions. Unilever ultimately aims to achieve zero waste across the value chain. Continued efforts on zero waste provide a strong business case for sustainability – eliminating waste has contributed to cost-benefits of €200million and created hundreds of jobs globally.
Unilever believes that its own goals, and moving other businesses and industries to zero waste, can only be realised by working with, and learning from, suppliers, partners and other organisations. For that reason, Unilever today also announced a new global collaboration with the leading value-chain platform 2degrees to help bring organisations together to leverage the zero waste model. The new collaboration programme will go live mid-2016.
Martin Chilcott, Founder and CEO, 2degrees said: “Unilever is continuing to demonstrate the leadership necessary to tackle the biggest resource efficiency and sustainability challenges that businesses face. To achieve bold goals, such as zero waste in the value chain, we need equally bold action and collaboration at scale. I’m delighted to be working with them to co-create a programme to help make this happen.”
Unilever Sustainable Living Plan
Unilever has stated that its ambition is to double the size of its business while reducing its environmental impact. The company is the Food Products Industry Leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and was awarded a Gold Class distinction for its excellent sustainability performance by RobecoSAM in their Sustainability Yearbook 2015. The zero non-hazardous waste to landfill target forms a key element of Unilever’s sustainable growth ambitions..
Notes to Editors
- In 2015 Unilever’s combined Australian operations produced 10,540 tonnes of waste with the bulk diverted to recycling and innovative solutions developed for hard to recycle waste streams.
- Today’s global zero non-hazardous waste announcement means that in addition to over 240 manufacturing sites, over 400 Unilever owned or fully operated, dedicated and strategic sites including offices, distribution centres and warehouses now send no non-hazardous waste to landfill.
- In January 2015, Unilever that over 240 manufacturing sites had achieved zero non-hazardous waste to landfill. Unilever has since maintained this status at all but eight manufacturing sites which sent a small amount of waste to landfill for a limited period during the year.
- Today’s achievement builds on the released in October 2015.
- Hazardous waste represents a very small percentage of total waste – the types of materials that make up hazardous waste vary due to differing local waste regulations around the world.
- Some examples of the solutions that have been used to deal with our waste streams include:
Tatura upcycles wooden waste
- After improving recycling at the facility, the Tatura factory moved to upcycling by restoring old materials into useful items. For example, old wooden crates and panels were turned into toys for charities and disadvantaged children by the Shepparton Men’s Shed.
Embedding zero waste mindset with employees
- Installed a segregated recycling system across all sites to help divert recyclable materials away from landfill including facility for recycling soft plastics.
- On-going engagement with employees to increase recycling awareness and rollout education campaigns to improve collection rates and prevent contamination of recycling streams.
- Launched “Greenius” programme at Tatura site in partnership with Transpacific to build employee understanding of new recycling system and embed zero waste mindset.
The power of ice cream
- Established a team of production and trade staff to identify issues, reposition waste bins on the production line and decontaminate ice cream waste. As a result ice cream waste is now diverted to Earthpower and used to generate electricity.
- Sludge waste treated through bio-remediation to convert into soil and compost for re-use.
- In Egypt, Rania Bahaa, an Environmental Specialist at Unilever Mashreq in Egypt was part of the launch team for a programme which empowers disabled employees to earn extra income by recycling waste material from Unilever’s production lines.
- A vermi-composting process first introduced in South Asia enables canteen waste and certain manufacturing food waste to be repurposed as compost. This is then used to grow organic vegetables for use in site canteens.
- The cement industry is responsible for 6% of global CO2 emissions and has traditionally relied heavily on fossil fuels. In recent years the industry has invested in technology which allows it to burn non-fossil fuels. Instead of burning gas or coal in the kilns, waste that Unilever currently cannot find a recycling option for (for example in Indonesia) is used to provide energy in the cement making process.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers a day. It has 172,000 employees and generated sales of €53.3 billion in 2015. In Australia and New Zealand, Unilever employs more than 2,000 people, and has offices and manufacturing facilities across both countries.
Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes around the world. In Australia and New Zealand, our name brands include Flora, Lipton, Bushells, Dove, Rexona, Lynx, Vaseline, Omo, Surf, Continental, Toni & Guy, Clear and Streets.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) commits to:
- Decoupling growth from environmental impact.
- Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.
- Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.
Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2015 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2015 GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey for the fourth year running, and in 2015 was ranked the most sustainable food and beverage company in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard.
Unilever has been named in LinkedIn’s Top 3 most sought-after employers across all sectors.