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Unilever, Nestle pledge further action on plastics at Canberra summit

Unilever’s Rotterdam offices.

FMCG giants Unilever and Nestle were among those to share their ambitious 2025 plastics commitments at the National Plastics Summit in Canberra on Monday.

Unilever plans to halve the use of virgin plastic, by cutting plastic packaging by over 100,000 tonnes and using more recycled plastic. This commitment stands alongside its previous target to have all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable in five years.

“We want to give Australians confidence that for each bottle of OMO, Dove, Surf, Toni & Guy or TRESemmé they buy, they are giving a new lease on life to the plastic they recycle in their yellow bins. In short, our combined initiatives help to divert plastic away from landfill,” Clive Stiff, CEO Unilever Australia & New Zealand said.

Stiff said that creating a local market and demand for recycled plastics is critical and needs heavy lifting from all those involved including suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters and recyclers.

The FMCG giant said it’s on track to achieve existing 2025 commitments to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable, and to use at least 25 per cent recycled plastic across our packaging.

“In Australia and New Zealand we are making good progress towards these targets. Unilever was the first major consumer goods company in Australia and New Zealand to source high volumes of locally sourced post-consumer recycled HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) plastic for our locally made personal care bottles,” the company said in a statement.

Unilever said it will work with suppliers, Visy & Pact, to use 380 tonnes of post-consumer Australian recycled plastic (both HDPE and PET) for its Dove, TRESemmé, Toni & Guy, Surf and OMO bottles and will use 375 tonnes of recycled plastic in imported brands including Love, Beauty & Planet and Comfort.

Meanwhile, confectionery giant Nestlé and Australian recycler iQ Renew announced a trial to collect soft plastics via kerbside recycling.

The trial will test the use of soft plastics as a resource in different manufacturing processes.

“As Nestlé plans to reduce our virgin plastic use and increase the amount of food grade recycled plastic packaging we use, we need plastic to be collected. Given the low amount of soft plastic collected from consumers today, we hope this trial can unlock the significant potential for soft plastic packaging to become a resource,” Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said.

Nestlé’s project will begin with a pilot of 2000 households and expand to over 100,000 households later in 2020. It will process around 750 tonnes of soft plastic. It’s still eyeing which locations to use for the trial.

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) announced at the Summit that it will lead the ANZPAC Plastic Pact as it joins the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network.

ANZPAC Plastics Pact will eliminate single-use plastic packaging by redesigning them; ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable; increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging and increase recycled materials in plastic packaging by the end of 2020.

“Plastic is a global supply chain problem and that means to manage it effectively, Australia needs an international approach. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s Plastic Pact network is a proven, effective model being rolled out across the world, and I’m very pleased that APCO Members and key stakeholders will be leading the delivery of this program for our region,” Brooke Donnelly, CEO of APCO said.

Woolworths, Australia Post, Unilever, Mars, Nestlé Oceania, Pact, CHEP, Amcor, Kmart Australia, Officeworks, Detmold Group, Veolia, SUEZ, Fonterra and Mondelēz International are all supporting the program.

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