Unilever announced: Following the announcement in January that we send zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across our global factory network, now our European operation has reached the same milestone.

Ambition to be zero waste company

Nine months after achieving zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across our global network of 242 factories in 67 countries, we have now become a zero waste to landfill company in Europe. This means that in addition to our manufacturing facilities, no waste from our owned or fully operated premises, logistic operations, distribution centres or offices goes to landfill.

We outlined our ambition to become a zero waste company in January 2015. Our European operation is the first to meet this new target with 63 additional facilities now sending no waste to landfill. We aim to become a zero waste company globally around the end of the year and also continue to work towards eliminating waste across our entire value chain.

Supporting industry-wide change

Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, Pier Luigi Sigismondi, says: “Our zero waste to landfill goal is essential to Unilever’s sustainable growth ambitions and we aspire to see industry-wide movement here. In June this year we partnered with peer companies, experts and key stakeholders to get people personally connected with this environmental and social issue. We are convinced that only together we can eliminate waste on an unprecedented scale across the globe. Our European teams have reached an important new milestone and proven that the model and mind-set that drove our factory achievements is repeatable outside of a manufacturing environment.”

How does this fit with the Sustainable Living Plan?

In 2010 we set a goal to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of our products by 2020, realising that whole system changes are needed to tackle the world’s major issues. We have a strong track record on designing out waste and since 2012 – when zero waste to landfill was added as a Unilever Sustainable Living Plan target – we have focused on embedding a ‘zero waste mind-set’ to rapidly accelerate the speed of the global roll out programme, increase resource resilience and reach the target well ahead of schedule.

Why is zero waste important?

Every year, an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste is collected worldwide. This is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025, with almost all of that increase coming from developing countries. Decay of solid waste also contributes a staggering 5% of global greenhouse gases. To relieve the pressures on the planet’s finite resources, it is now more important than ever to prevent waste.