Marmite maker Unilever has announced plans to halve the amount of virgin plastic it uses by 2025 as part of a major sustainability push.
The consumer giant, which also owns household brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, said it will cut more than 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging out of its supply chain through new commitments to reduce waste.
The sustainability drive is one of the first key moves by chief executive Alan Jope, who has continued to sharpen the firm’s green credentials, set by previous boss Paul Polman.
Unilever has promised that by 2025 it will halve the amount of virgin plastic – plastic that has not previously been used or processed – by reducing its total use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerating its use of recycled plastic.
It said that by 2025 it will also help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells in an attempt to partly offset the environmental impact of the business.
Unilever’s commitment will require it to help collect and process around 600,000 tonnes of plastic annually.
Unilever said the promises make it the “first major global consumer business to commit to an absolute reduction” in the use of plastics across its production.
Mr Jope said the way consumer firms use plastic demands a “fundamental rethink”, adding that new and innovative packaging materials need to be utilised to drive the change.
He said: “Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment. We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle.
“Our starting point has to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use, and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources.
“We are also committed to ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.”
Paula Chin, sustainable materials specialist at WWF UK, said: “Unilever’s ambition to slash their plastic usage and to process more plastic than it sells is a welcome step.
“We need to see more businesses, producers and governments all taking greater responsibility.
“The natural world isn’t a luxury – it is our life support system, and we must act now to protect it, before it’s too late.”