Waste and packaging
Reducing waste from manufacturing
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 reuse and recycling of all non-hazardous waste in environmentally friendly ways.
As compared to 2008, the total waste generated from our factories in 2019 has reduced by 63%. All our factories are also equipped with pre-processing facilities such as waste segregation and waste reduction at source, thus improving recyclability.
By 2020, our target is to reduce the waste associated with the disposal of our products by half.
Reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging
Our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) addresses the global issue of plastic waste and is committed to ensuring that 100% of our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. In order to support our goal, we have committed to halving our use of plastic, by reducing the absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerating our use of recycled plastic. In 2019, we disposed of more than 39,000 tonnes of plastic waste in environment-friendly ways in India.
Partnership with Xynteo
- Driving behavioural change in schools:
Projects such as the ‘Plastic Safari’, developed in collaboration with the international organisation Xynteo have reached nearly over 80,000 students so far across 2,000 schools in Kolhapur Zila Parishad. The ‘waste no more’ curriculum was aimed at creating awareness and driving behavioural change towards recycling, in schools and housing societies.
- Driving behavioural change in communities:
In 2019, more than 75% of the 2,000 households in Dahisar, Mumbai successfully segregated waste at source, while promoting safe waste disposal. We aim to further scale this behaviour change programme through our partners.
- End to End waste management:
We have initiated an end to end waste management program, with a pilot in Mumbai’s D-ward in partnership with State Bank of India (SBI) and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). The project aims to establish end to end waste management, ensuring circularity through behaviour change, segregation at source, collection and safe disposal. On an average 700-900 kgs of dry waste is collected from the area per day.
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, segregation and recycling including behaviour change. Our ‘Plastic Waste Management Programme at Swachhta Kendras’ in Mumbai’s K-East (Andheri East) and R-North (Dahisar) empowers 385 Safai Saathis (cleaning buddies) to promote sustainable plastic waste management. We have also opened bank accounts for 102 Safai Saathis, with the aim of financial inclusion.
So far, the programme has collected more than 2,262 tonnes of plastic waste, with plans to further expand across other cities, in India.
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 thickness of aluminium cans for deodorants, in order to save plastic. A key part of our sustainability programme, this requires us to speed up reusable, refillable, and no plastic product innovations. Besides, packaging innovation techniques such as our polymer and material use optimisation have also helped us save over 3,800 tonnes of polymer, 102 tonnes of aluminium and 2,700 tonnes of paper across categories, in 2019.
In order to build a circular economy, plastic packaging needs to be recycled in environment- 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 principals 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 toothbrush and Fair & 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.
Experimenting with new formats that either have no packaging at all or will use substitute materials for packaging, recyclability of our packaging is crucial to our future success. We have converted all our shampoo sachet and soap bar wrappers into the recyclable structure. Thus, exiting 2019 with 1.5KT of PCR used in our packaging.
Reducing office waste
In 2019, we made significant changes across all our offices and achieved the status of ‘Zero waste to Landfill’ for non-hazardous waste. We use ceramic cups instead of paper cups, hand dryers in the washroom instead of tissue paper, and recycled A4 sheets for printing. We have also replaced our paper records and files with digital records. Not only have we stopped using single waste plastics in our offices, but also, any composting food waste is utilised as manure for maintaining our gardens and landscapes.
Making the right difference
HUL has always believed in being at the forefront of creating a positive change. Under Project Prabhat, we have enabled waste segregation at household level and have also aided in creating community biogas plant for powering streetlights in Haridwar.
The ‘Unplastic’ Initiative is yet another example. Launched in Hari Ashray Colony (Haridwar), the plastic waste collected will be fed into a first-of-its-kind Rebot Plastic Compression Machine. While the users get rewarded with Paytm coupons, the compressed plastic gets sent for recycling to authorised recyclers. This will further be utilised in the production of t-shirts, scarves, furniture, and even as a raw material for building roads.