LONDON/PARIS: November 07, 2018. Unilever and Veolia have agreed to collaborate on emerging technologies that will help create a circular economy on plastics across various geographies, starting in India and Indonesia.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, just 14 percent of the plastic packaging used globally is collected for recycling after use, with 40 percent ending up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems.

In 2017 Unilever committed to ensure that all its plastic packaging would 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 increase the recycled plastic content in its packaging to at least 25 percent by 2025.

Unilever and Veolia say the issue of plastic waste is a shared responsibility that requires bold action across the value chain to develop and scale up collection and reprocessing infrastructure, which is critical in the transition towards a circular economy.

Veolia plasticThe work will focus on material collection, which will help 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 processes and business models through this partnership in various countries.

According to recent data, eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the world’s oceans every year and there are currently 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that covers 1.6 million square kilometres - three times the size of France.

Marc Engel, Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, commented: “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. 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.”

Laurent Auguste, senior executive vice president of Veolia for Development, Innovation and Markets added: “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. 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,” he continued.

Veolia designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions. In 2017, it supplied 96 million people with drinking water and 62 million people with wastewater service, produced nearly 55 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 47 million tonnes of waste into new materials and energy. Veolia Environnement reported revenue of €25.12 billion in 2017.