Unilever will join Cisco, Kingfisher, Philips and Renault as the latest Global Partner to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The partnership will focus on supporting Unilever as a pathfinder in unlocking the value of the circular economy within the FMCG industry. Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, has long viewed the circular economy model as a key opportunity for business development.

In his foreword which opened the Foundation’s second economic report he stated: “The concept of a circular economy promises a way out. Here products do not quickly become waste, but are reused to extract their maximum value before safely and productively returning to the biosphere. Most importantly for business leaders, such an economy can deliver growth. Innovative product designers and business leaders are already venturing into this space”

Unilever has the potential to pilot circularity across global fast-moving supply chains, and with a reported 2 billion consumers worldwide using a Unilever product each day, the opportunity to test it at scale is clear. Outlined as a US $700 billion opportunity for the FMCG sector in our second economic report, the consumer goods industry is starting to embrace the potential of the circular model. For durables, the benefits of reuse have been more widely demonstrated (see our case studies). For consumer goods – such as food and beverages or apparel and their packaging – which are short-lived and often transformed during use, the economic benefits of a circular design seem initially harder to capture. Yet recovering part of the US $2.6 trillion of material value lost each year is a huge opportunity for fast-moving consumer goods companies and Unilever will prove to be an important pathfinder within the industry.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation now has a global partnership with Cisco, Kingfisher, Philips, Renault and Unilever – this group represents key industry players working to pilot and test circular economy practices at scale. Their industry expertise reach across information technology, retail, healthcare, consumer lifestyle & lighting, automotive and FMCG.