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Unilever boss urges resources rethink

UnileverBottles of well-known brands such as OMO, Dove, Surf, Sunsilk, and TRESemmé will soon contain at least 25 per cent locally-sourced recycled plastic, as Unilever pledges to find new life for plastics recycled from Australian homes.

The move will help accelerate Australia’s circular economy by creating local demand for HDPE, a more rigid plastic type, used commonly in plastic bottles for home cleaning and personal care products. It will also create an end market for approximately 750 tonnes of recycled plastic per year – equal to approximately 100 million single use plastic bags.

Unilever CEO Clive Stiff said the company is acutely aware of the consequences of a linear take-make-dispose model, but said it’s simply not possible to achieve in isolation.

“Creating a local market and demand for all types of recycled plastics is critical and heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors and recyclers,” he said. “We need a complete shift in how we think about resources.”

The company is the first major consumer goods company in Australia to make the shift to high volumes of locally recycled HDPE plastic packaging, following a 2017 commitment to design all plastic packaging to be fully reusable recyclable or compostable by 2025.

“We want to give Australians confidence that for each bottle they buy, they are giving a new lease on life to the plastic they recycle in their yellow bins,” Stiff said. “In short, this move diverts plastic away from landfill.”

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