Unilever achieves zero waste to landfill across global factory network

Unilever has achieved a key sustainability goal of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill from its global factory network. More than 240 factories in 67 countries have now eliminated landfill waste. This includes all the 38 factories and sites of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) in India which have become 100% zero non-hazardous waste to landfill sites.

World first

With this, Unilever has become the world’s first organisation to deliver zero waste on this scale. This zero waste achievement was announced at the same time as Unilever was awarded a Gold Class distinction for its excellent sustainability performance by RobecoSAM in their Sustainability Yearbook 2015, based on our leadership of the Food Products industry in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index 2014.

The zero waste to landfill target forms a key element of Unilever’s sustainable growth ambitions.

Putting the waste to good use

Reducing waste at source remains the number one priority alongside finding innovative solutions for any remaining waste. For example, in India, HUL’s Mangalore unit is composting its kitchen and garden waste to generate manure being used to grow 120 kilogram of organic vegetables per month. Besides this, the unit has also set up a sewage treatment plant that treats 20 kilo litres of domestic sewage per day. This treated water is used for watering the organic vegetables.

Sound business sense

Eliminating waste has avoided more than €200 million of cost for Unilever and created hundreds of jobs.

Zero waste mindset

Unilever has a strong track record on designing out waste from factories and since 2012 – when zero waste to landfill was added as a Unilever Sustainable Living Plan target – the company has focused on embedding a ‘zero waste mindset’ to accelerate the global roll out programme and increase resource resilience.

Reduce, reuse, recover, recycle

To achieve zero waste to landfill, Unilever has adopted the four ‘R’ approach – reducing waste at source, then reusing, recovering or recycling any non-hazardous waste that remains. This has meant reconsideration of every aspect of the factory operation, from packing materials with deliveries to food waste from staff cafeterias. At HUL, 100% of manufacturing waste was recycled in environmentally friendly ways in 2014.

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