Leading food supplier Unilever, has highlighted the importance of lessening plastics in our oceans and is calling for the consumer goods industry to step up.
Unilever is a supplier of over 400 brands, and now is putting its large-scale influence to good use.
One year after Unilever made its industry-leading commitment to ensure 100 percent of its plastic packaging was fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, Unilever NZ managing director Nick Bangs welcomed news that 10 companies have made similar pledges.
Today, only 14 percent of plastic packaging gets collected for recycling. According to the Packaging Council of NZ, New Zealanders consume about 735 thousand tonnes of packaging every year and recycle only about 58 percent of it.
Banks says as a consumer goods industry, Unilever must work to lead by example for other sustainable practises.
He believes there are four key actions the consumer goods industry should take to create the systemic change required and accelerate the transition to a circular economy:
1) For companies to invest in innovation towards new delivery models that promote reuse.
2) For more companies to commit to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025 and set stretching targets for using post-consumer recycled content.
3) For a Global Plastics Protocol setting common agreed definitions and industry standards on what materials are put into the marketplace, to ensure our packaging is compatible with existing and cost-effective recycling infrastructures.
4) For companies to engage positively in policy discussions with governments on the need for improvements to waste management infrastructure, including the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.
Bangs says that addressing the issue is shared responsibility.
“All stakeholders in the value chain must work together in partnership to find effective solutions. However, there is no doubt that the response from the consumer goods industry will be amongst the most critical in determining the speed at which positive change takes place. We are at a critical juncture.”