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Waste free world

Our commitment to a waste-free future

  • Collect and process more plastic than we sell.
  • 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable plastic by 2025.
  • 15% recycled plastic by 2025.
  • Halve food waste generated in operations by 2025.
  • Maintain zero non-hazardous waste to landfill in our factories.

HUL_Food_Loss_and_Waste (XLSX 35.55 KB)

Areas in focus

  • Creating a circular economy
  • Reducing food waste from factories

Our journey so far

  • Collected and processed more plastic than it uses in packaging its products in the calendar years 2021 and 2022.
  • Around 73% of our plastic is recyclable and recycle-ready.
  • Working on partnerships that can help build supplier capacity, and capability for PCR, including rigids and flexibles.
  • Successfully maintained a status of ‘zero non-hazardous waste to landfills’ across all factories and offices.
  • We have achieved this by maximising the reuse and recycling of all non-hazardous waste in environmentally friendly ways.
  • In the calendar year 2022, we collected and processed over 1,00,000 tonnes of plastic waste, which is more plastic than we use in packaging our products.

Rethinking plastic

We’re completely rethinking our approach to packaging to use less, better or no plastic.

Challenges at hand

Plastic is a very useful material for getting our products to consumers safely and efficiently. It’s often the lowest carbon footprint option compared to other materials. However, plastic is ending up in our environment. This has to stop.

Our Progress

Everyone across the value chain needs to play their part in managing plastic waste effectively.

Towards collection and processing

We started collecting plastic waste even before 2018, but we started recording data formally since that year.

  • We have accurate data on 80% of the sales volume for plastic packaging for the period between January 2022 and December 2022. The total plastic packaging footprint for the above period is around 118,000 tonnes.
  • Owing to GSK CH integration, the number increased in 2020. Moreover, this is separate from the volume of products sold. Hence relatively, the reduction in plastic usage is not apparent.

To create a plastic waste circular economy, we recognise the imperative need for behaviour change. To advocate and create awareness in the area of waste management, we have partnered with Xynteo India Private Limited and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Our partnerships for a waste-free world

We work towards end-to-end waste management projects in Mumbai in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme. From collection to segregation and recycling, our initiatives also include promoting behaviour change.

Plastic Waste Management Programme with UNDP

  • Have set up three Swachhta Kendras (material recovery facilities) in Mumbai: K-East (Andheri East), H-West (Bandra West), and R-North (Dahisar).
  • Reached out to over 100,000 households for collecting and segregating dry waste.

Help improve the lives of waste pickers (Safai Saathis) by enabling their access to government social protection schemes covering food, health, safety, security and financial inclusion. Through the partnerships, the Company has successfully linked 3,300 Safai Saathis and their families to Government schemes, including Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, E-SHRAM card, and Jan Dhan account.

Partnering with Xynteo

To advocate and create awareness in the area of waste management, we have partnered with international organisation Xynteo. We developed a curriculum called ‘Waste No More’ to create awareness and drive behaviour change on waste segregation and recycling among school children in partnership with Xynteo.

The programme has reached out to more than 92 lakh students through direct school interventions and 27 lakh children digitally. The Company in partnership with the State Bank of India (SBI), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has set up Material Recovery Facilities in Mumbai and Aurangabad with the aim to recycle plastic waste and transform behaviour in communities through education and awareness modules.

Reducing plastic packaging

  • We are working towards significantly reducing virgin plastic in our packaging by 2025.
  • We have resized our sachets for the hair and home-care portfolios.
  • Our sustainability programme aims to speed up the manufacturing of reusable, refillable, and no-plastic product innovations.

How much plastic do we use

The calculation is based on our total plastic packaging footprint and the amount of each kind of plastic. All figures are in tonnes.

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

97,000

96,000

1,06,000

1,07,000

118,000

Plastic collected and processed across India

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

20,000

59,000

(cumulative)

1,20,000

(cumulative)

1,20,000

(cumulative)

3,50,000+

(cumulative)

Other packaging materials

We use recycled paper and board by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). We have committed to achieving a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023.

This is one of our company-wide time-bound goals in our new Unilever Compass strategy. This means that by the end of 2023, our raw materials will come from places that are verified as deforestation and conversion free. We use paper and board for folding cartons, customer packaging, aseptic cartons etc.

We aim to buy paper packaging that comes either from well-managed forests or from recycled material. But sometimes we need to source virgin paper and board – for example, because of safety regulations. When we do, we buy from certified sources with a full 'chain of custody' from the plantation to us. This is achieved either through certification schemes like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or through the Global Traceability System.

Most of the metal we use in our packaging is for our deodorant cans. We are constantly looking for metal packaging made from post-consumer recycled metal and post-industrial recycled metal. We source more than 650 tonnes of metal for product packaging. Most of the glass we use is for our Foods and Refreshment product packaging, and we source close to 20000 tonnes of it. India regulations currently do not allow recycled content in Glass Food contact packaging.

Other packaging material (XLSX 10.62 KB)

Recycling packaging

Recycling plastic is crucial to achieving a circular economy. To this end, we are currently redesigning our products and revising our business models based on ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.’ Our plastic is kept within the system and out of the environment, and we do this by purchasing post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR).

Additionally, we have greatly increased our use of recycled plastic. During the financial year 2022-23, we have used 2.9% of recycled plastic as post-consumer recycled plastic procured on a base of the total plastic footprint in the finished goods sold. A shining example of this is our Smart-fill Stations that enable consumers to refill their plastic bottles with our homecare liquid products.

Waste-free manufacturing

  • The total waste generated by our factories reduced by 55% in 2022, compared to the 2008 baseline.
  • We have maximised the reuse and recycling of all non-hazardous waste in a sustainable manner.
  • Our factories are also equipped with pre-processing facilities to boost the waste management process.

Prabhat

  • Prabhat launched a waste management initiative in 2019 at Haridwar expanding it to Pondicherry in 2021.
  • The project’s aimed at creating and promoting ‘zero waste to landfill’ within communities.

Waste management initiatives

  • Facilitating behaviour change communications.
  • Ensuring the circularity of both biodegradable and plastic waste.
  • Conducting awareness sessions for waste segregation at source.
  • Creating a community biogas plant.
  • Promoting kitchen gardens in households to use compost.
  • Cleaning drives across the ghats of Ganga and other critical areas.
  • Upcycling plastic into value-added products.

How has the initiative helped?

  • It has created awareness on the importance of waste segregation, management and recycling in communities.
  • The project has collected 1,40,000 kgs of waste from the households
  • The biogas plant, installed as part of the initiative, has utilised 200 kgs of waste per day to power streetlights in Haridwar, saving 2.4 Kw energy daily, since inception.
  • Recycled over 3,000 kgs of plastic waste to create hand washing stations, for public use, with a no-touch foot paddle.
  • Provided an end-to-end solution for holistic waste management.

We are now expanding the project to Rajahmundry, in alignment with the Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0, using a model based on the learnings from our successful projects at Haridwar and Pondicherry. Here, we have implemented door-to-door waste collection in our eco-friendly collection vehicle.

Raising awareness on household waste segregation

Segregation at source is one of the most important activities that we need to carry out for effective waste management. When waste is segregated correctly it makes it easier to be recycled & reused, with a higher potential for recovery. In addition, segregated waste also reduces health and safety-related risks to waste pickers and the community at large. HUL launched an awareness campaign to drive the importance and urgency of source segregation.

Tackling food waste

The facts are shocking. However, we at HUL strive daily to raise awareness on the scale and impact of waste, help people make informed choices, and create a future where food is never wasted. This begins with Unilever’s initiative of Future Foods.

We are aiming to halve food waste in our operations and helping people to reduce their climate impact by cutting their own food waste.

At HUL, we measure and monitor our food waste across our operations. We run several programs within our operations and with our business partners to measure and reduce food loss and waste.

Some of the key initiatives are as follows:

Measuring our food loss and waste

Accurate data is crucial to our food waste reduction programme. We follow the Target-Measure-Act approach from Champions 12.3 to ensure that we’re measuring and managing food waste in a meaningful way. The Global Food Loss and Waste Standard guides our methodology for accounting and reporting on how much food is lost or wasted in our manufacturing operations.

Halving food waste in our own operations

We’ve committed to halving food waste in our operations by 2025 (versus 2019), in support of the Champions 12.3 initiative. This commitment is part of the HUL ESG Compass (PDF 13 MB) Goals and our Climate Transition Action Plan (PDF 7.98 MB) since reducing food waste will also help to reduce our GHG emissions. Our ultimate aim is to send no food waste to landfill and ensure no good food is destroyed.

Our focus is on making sure no expired products or ingredients are thrown away or wasted in our operations. We want everyone in our business to be a food waste warrior and spot any opportunity to save food. The food-saving techniques we’re using include manufacturing fixes and circular economy approaches. For instance, if our ice cream packaging lines stop working, we store the ice cream safely so it can be packaged when the lines are fixed, rather than letting it become food waste.

We also aim to use every bit of raw materials, so none are wasted. More than two-thirds of our manufacturing waste is from biological sources (such as sludge from wastewater and inedible food waste). Where this waste is unavoidable, we look to extract value from these streams by finding reuse opportunities (such as animal feed), or recycling and recovering into new products (such as biogas capture via anaerobic digestion or composting back to agriculture use).

Few such initiatives include design out losses through Technology and Capability improvements in Line efficiency, CIP optimisation, enhanced cleaning technologies to reduce losses, Sludge De-watering, etc. We have implemented innovative re-use initiatives to recover food waste through repurpose organics within site such as re-work mix, onsite re-use or collaborate for re-use externally such as Animal feed. We recycle and level up to gain best value of unavoidable losses through investment and partners for applications such as Biogas fuel creation, Biomass feedstock, Fertilizer or Composting.

We’ve spent many years reducing waste and recycling in our operations, and we continue to look for innovative ways to eliminate and extract value from our waste streams.

Helping consumers cut food waste

No one feels good about throwing food away. Yet around 60% of food waste happens in people’s homes – so it’s clear we can do more to support consumers to change habits and attitudes.

We're using our brands to reach consumers and help them cut waste through great products and innovative ideas.

Good food can get thrown away simply because date labels on food packaging are confusing. We’re working with others to make it easier for consumers to understand if their food is safe and stop food being unnecessarily thrown away. We want to see harmonised regulations that set 'use-by' dates for foods with shorter durability on the basis of safety, and 'best-before' dates for foods with longer durability on the grounds of quality.

Partnering for a world without food waste

We view partnership as the new leadership and we’re embracing collaboration with others for change – that includes suppliers, retailers, our peers and governments. Together we are advocating for food system reform to address food waste, food insecurity and mitigate climate change.

As a member of the Champions 12.3 10x20x30 initiative, a global coalition of leaders from governments, businesses and civil society, we’ve committed to halve food waste. Together, we’re calling for:

  • Governments and companies to adopt explicit food loss and waste reduction targets that align with Sustainable Development Goal target 12.3.
  • Harmonised regulations that set 'use-by' dates for foods with shorter durability on the basis of safety, and 'best-before' dates for foods with longer durability on the grounds of quality.

Transforming food waste into nutritious animal feed

A pivotal aspect of our sustainable food waste management involves converting organic waste into a valuable resource. Food waste unsuitable for human consumption or reprocessing can be transformed into nutritious animal feed. This approach serves a dual purpose: reducing the environmental impact of food waste while promoting healthier livestock. By partnering with specialised animal feed producers, our depot diverts food waste to create high-quality feedstock. This innovative solution not only reduces food waste but also contributes to sustainable animal feed production.

Details of partnerships for regenerative agriculture

With strong partnership and future plans, HUL will focus on improving the soil health, conserving water and seeds varietals program which will increase yield and better returns to the farmers in line with our living wage agenda which links with our brand purpose. With end-to-end activities of reviewing current farming practices, identifying key gaps towards adoption of Regenerative Agricultural Practices and ensuring training knowledge dissemination of the Regenerative Agricultural Practices to the tomato farmers will enable positive impacts on farming practices, produce, farmer livelihood and agri-yield. This will be followed by proper monitoring and evaluation - healthy soil, increased biodiversity, improved water quality and climate resilience profitable farming systems. HUL’s investments in building capacities, right technologies and capabilities are also focused towards reducing agri-waste as this enables right post-harvest demand channels for farmer produce. By enabling the right input and advisory services and providing productive output channels, we aim to create a holistic and sustainable eco-system.

New product innovation

From R&D, our continuous endeavour is to reduce food waste by increasing both closed and open shelf life of our products. We focus on improving our recipe and processes to achieve the same. We have been successful to increase shelf life of our Kissan peanut butter, Kissan Squash range and Best Foods Mayonnaise products.

We also engage with the industry to reduce foods waste in Hotels, Restaurant and Catering (HoReCa) channels. We had done a workshop with select chefs on ways and means to reduce food waste in professional kitchens and this event was sponsored by Hellmann’s.

Joint forecasting and replenishment

With regards to demand planning, at HUL we drive accurate volume forecasting to help improve the freshness of products delivered to consumers. To achieve the same, we track forecast bias as a key matrix, which is under sale or over sale vs our forecast and take necessary corrections in future. Also, we review and provide dynamic demand signals to supply chain basis recent trends/ orders trajectory, weather patterns and customer holding, to help take right production and distribution decisions.

One of the examples here is, while current year ice cream season got impacted owing to undesirable rains during summers, we were able to dynamically share the outlook based on multiple factors; We ended up within a forecast bias band of +-3% against the view. This really helped built up of excess inventories and eliminated generation of obsoletes and helped avoid food waste.

Additionally, we have been working towards demand sensing, which can help provide demand signals every day based on actual customer offtakes and sales loss at Redistribution stockist level, along with external parameters of rainfall and temperature, with the aim of creating an environment within supply chain which is well connected to take rightful decisions resulting in better service, improved freshness and lower waste be in production, distribution, sourcing.

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