Veolia signs packaging sustainability agreement with Unilever

Veolia signs packaging sustainability agreement with Unilever

Global consumer products company forges alliance with Paris-based waste and recycling firm.

October 24, 2018

Paris-based waste and recycling services provider Veolia Environnement has signed a three-year collaboration agreement with multinational consumer products company Unilever “to jointly work on emerging technologies that will help create a circular economy on plastics across various geographies, starting in India and Indonesia.”

According to the two firms, the agreement has been designed to find ways to “improve waste collection and recycling infrastructure and to help create a circular economy for plastic [scrap]” in those two nations and beyond. Unilever and Veolia cite an Ellen MacArthur Foundation statistic claiming 14 percent of plastic packaging used globally is collected for recycling after use, “with 40 percent ending up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems.”

In 2017, Unilever made what it calls an industry leading commitment to ensure its plastic packaging will be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To help create an end market for this material, the company also committed to increase the recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25 percent by 2025.

The new agreement, say the two companies, acknowledges that how to deal with discarded plastic packaging “is a shared responsibility that requires bold action across the value chain to develop and scale up the collection and reprocessing infrastructure, which is critical in the transition towards a circular economy.”

Work stemming from the agreement will focus on material collection, which will help channel recycled content back into the value chain, say the two firms. Veolia will work with Unilever to implement used packaging collection solutions, add recycling capacity and develop new processes and business models through the partnership in various countries.

“The scale of the plastic waste issue is getting worse, not better, with the production of plastics expected to double over the next two decades,” says Marc Engel, Unilever’s chief supply chain officer. “We all have a lot more to do to address this critical issue and we hope that by partnering with Veolia, a world leader in waste management, we can take meaningful strides towards a circular economy,” he adds.

Comments Laurent Auguste, senior executive vice president at Veolia for development, innovation and markets, “There is an undeniable need to transform the current way plastic packaging end of life is managed in order to reduce significantly its environmental footprint. It will take a collaboration of a new kind between all the actors of the value chain. With this global partnership, Veolia and Unilever join forces in various geographies around the globe and, from the collection to the recycling, take a leadership role to redefine a responsible and sustainable future for packaging”.

Unilever, with headquarters staff in both London and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is one of the world’s largest fast moving consumer products companies, with more than 400 brands including Dove, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s and Ben & Jerry’s. Its 161,000 employees make and sell €53.7 ($61.3 billion) worth of goods to more than 190 countries, reaching an estimated 2.5 billion consumers per day.

Veolia has nearly 169 000 employees worldwide, and designs and provides water, waste and energy management services globally. The company recorded revenue of €25.1 billion ($30.1 billion) in 2017.