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Waste Free World

We wish to create a waste-free future, and we are already taking preventive measures by implementing minimalistic use of plastic and reducing the food waste from our factories.

This issue relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

12 – Responsible consumption and production.

Image of waste segregation bins

Our commitment

Globally, we’ve set ambitious targets to reduce the total amount of virgin plastic we use, to ramp up the use of recycled plastic and to only use reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging. We’re also supporting collection and processing infrastructure.

By 2025, globally, we will:

  • Ensure that 100% of our plastic packaging is designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • Help collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell
  • Halve the amount of virgin plastic we use in our packaging and achieve an absolute reduction of more than 100,000 tonnes in plastic use
  • Increase the use of post-consumer recycled plastic material in our packaging to at least 25%

Rethinking plastic

The plastics problem is too big for us to solve alone. A movement to a circular economy approach for plastics requires system-level change, beyond our industry. That’s why we’re working with governments to support development of waste infrastructure. We want to make sure the systems our products flow into are robust, and ideally, circular.

There are a few bigger challenges – the selective collection of packaging waste, inadequate waste infrastructure, and limited investment in the waste industry.

We have collected and safely disposed more than 1.2 lakh tonnes of post-consumer use plastic waste in aggregate since 2018 through collection and disposal partners across India. And we have successfully maintained the status of ‘zero non-hazardous waste to landfill’ across all our factories and offices. 100% of the non-hazardous waste generated at our factories is recycled in environmentally friendly ways.

With the aim of protecting and regenerating nature, HUL's sustainable and inclusive community development initiative 'Prabhat' launched its waste management initiative in 2019 at Haridwar, in partnership with Swayambhu Innovative Solutions Pvt. Ltd. The project aims to build and promote the concept of zero waste to landfill in communities.

Focussing on the circularity of both wet waste (biodegradable waste) and plastic waste, the project has been undertaking multiple activities - from awareness sessions for waste segregation at source to creating a community biogas plant, behaviour change communications and promotion of kitchen gardens at a household level. The biogas plant is using 200 kgs of waste per day for powering twenty streetlights in Haridwar, saving 2.4 Kw energy per day, since February 2021.

The project has further upcycled 675 kgs of plastic waste to create handwashing stations. Each handwashing station has a no-touch foot paddle adhering to COVID-19 protocols and will be installed for public usage at schools, etc.

To help reduce plastic waste, cleaning drives across the ghats of the Ganga river have been executed, along with upcycling of plastic waste into value-added products. The project is providing an end-to-end solution for holistic waste management.

Our partnerships

Partnership with UNDP

HUL has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for end to end waste management projects in Mumbai, right from collection, to segregation and recycling; including behaviour change. Our ‘Plastic Waste Management Programme at Swachhta Kendras’ is currently implemented in Mumbai’s K-East (Andheri East), H-West (Bandra West), and R-North (Dahisar).

Successfully reaching out to 40,000 households for collecting and segregating dry waste, through this programme, we have collected about 4000 tonnes of plastic waste, and onboarded more than 800 Safai Saathis.

Partnership with Xynteo

Being the founding partner at the India 2022 coalition catalysed by Xynteo, Hindustan Unilever Foundation supports the Government of India’s development goals in critical areas such as waste management.

To create awareness and drive behaviour change, we have developed a curriculum called ‘Waste No More’ on waste segregation and recycling among school children and people in housing societies. The programme has reached out to more than 1 lakh students. HUL in partnership with State Bank of India (SBI) and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, initiated and operationalised a Dry Waste Collection and Segregation Centre in D ward, Mumbai.

Reducing packaging

By 2030, we aim to halve the greenhouse gas impact of our products, by eliminating over 100,000 tonnes of plastic from our packaging. We have resized sachets across our hair and home care portfolio and reduced the thickness of aluminium cans for deodorants, in order to save plastic. A key part of our sustainability programme, requires us to speed up reusable, refillable, and no plastic product innovations.

Our mantra and framework: Less plastic. Better plastic. No plastic.

Recycling packaging

To build a circular economy, plastic packaging needs to be recycled in environmentally- friendly ways. We are re-designing our products and revising our business model, not only with the aim of using less plastic, but also, to inculcate the principles of reusing, recycling, and composting the minimal plastic currently used.

To increase recycling and recovery rates in our packaging, we are using r-PET (80% recycled PET) in our blister packs for personal care brands like Pepsodent toothbrushes and Glow & Lovely. We are also using post-consumer recycled polymer in our bottles. Tresemme, Sunsilk black, and Surf excel Liquid bottles are with 25% r-HDPE, while Vim bottles are 50% r-PET. We have started migrating to recyclable flexibles across our portfolio, starting with pilots in few brands like soap wrapper of Lux and Lifebuoy, Sunsilk shampoo sachets, Vim bar Flow-wrap and Pond’s tubes.

We have also eliminated approximately one kilotonne of plastic by eliminating plastics coating from all the soap cartons (Dove, Lux, Liril) and Lifebuoy soap stiffeners.

Reusing packaging

We are committed to making 100% of our plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Further, 25% of all the plastic we use is expected to come from recycled sources by 2025.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is aligned with the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2018, Government of India’s vision of Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission, and the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. Our aim is to establish a holistic material recovery model where along with collection and recovery of dry waste the focus is also on habit change to promote waste segregation at source.

Waste-free manufacturing

By 2020, our target is to reduce the waste associated with the disposal of our products by half. Our factories have identified innovative ways to reuse various non-hazardous waste streams and maintain the status of 'zero non-hazardous waste to landfill' in factories and offices across HUL. This was done by maximising the reuse and recycling of all non-hazardous waste in environmentally friendly ways.

Compared to 2008, the total waste generated from our factories in 2020 has reduced by 59%. All our factories are also equipped with pre-processing facilities such as waste segregation and waste reduction at source, thus improving recyclability.

Tackling food waste

Future Food Commitments

Did you know that about one-third of the food that gets produced globally, gets discarded? About 40-45% of food wastage comes from people’s homes.

We aim to raise awareness about the impacts, help people transition towards making better choices, and strive towards creating a future where zero food is wasted. This begins with our operations through Unilever’s initiative of Future Foods.