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Unilever, Veolia Collaborate for a Circular Economy

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Unilever and Veolia have announced a collaboration to work on emerging technologies to help create a circular economy on plastics across various geographies.

The work will focus on material collection, helping to channel recycled content back into the value chain. Veolia will work with Unilever to implement used packaging collection solutions, add recycling capacity and develop new process and business models through the partnership in various countries, beginning with India and Indonesia.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 14% of the plastic packaging used globally is collected for recycling after use; 40% ends up in a landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems. In reaching the agreement, Unilever  and Veolia acknowledge that the issue of plastic waste requires action across the value chain, to develop and scale up collection and reprocessing infrastructure which is critical in the transition towards a circular economy.

Related: Unilever Backs Animal Testing Ban on Cosmetics

In 2017, Unilever committed to ensure that all its plastic packaging will be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To help create an end market for this material, the company also committed to increasing the recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25% in 2025.

“The scale of the plastic waste issue is getting worse, not better, with the production of plastics expected to double over the next two decades,” said Unilever chief supply chain officer Marc Engel.  “We all have a lot more to do to address this critical issue and we hope that by partnering with Veolia, a world leader in waste management, we can take meaningful strides towards a circular economy.”

“There is an undeniable need to transform the current way plastic packaging end of life is managed in order to reduce significantly its environmental footprint,” added Laurent Auguste, senior executive vice president for development, innovation and markets at Veolia. “It will take a collaboration of a new kind between all the actors of the value chain. With this global partnership, Veolia and Unilever join forces in various geographies around the globe and, from the collection to the recycling, take a leadership role to redefine a responsible and sustainable future for packaging.”