Restoring the UK’s ancient woodlands
Skincare brand Simple is working with one of the UK’s leading conservation charities to help restore and protect 58 hectares of ancient woodland every year.
These woods and forests aren’t just precious habitats for wildlife. They also store carbon in their trees and soil, improving the air quality around them. But at least 60% of the UK’s oldest woodland – some dating back to the 16th century – is currently damaged and under threat.
Simple’s partnership with the Woodland Trust aims to breathe life back into these irreplaceable havens, creating new homes for the species that live there and ensuring people can enjoy them for centuries to come.
Simple’s commitment to protecting nature extends to its products and packaging too. The brand’s bestselling cleansing wipes are made with plant-based fibres which are 100% biodegradable in 42 days, under home compost conditions. The wipes are also sold in recyclable packs, and Simple’s full-size bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic and are fully recyclable.
Regenerating Tibet’s arid grasslands
Lux has helped plant more than 10 million sqm of grassland in Tibet over the past ten years. It’s part of the brand’s Go Green Go Lux campaign, where a small donation from the purchase of every bottle of Lux shower gel sold in China goes to support rural Tibetan communities.
Every 1RMB (€0.1) donation equates to 1 sqm of grass planted, improving Tibet’s degraded pastures and desertification.
In 2020, the brand launched a new Lux Botanicals bodywash enriched with alfalfa, one of the grasses planted in Tibet. The move has helped more than 12,000 local farmers and herdsmen to earn a more sustainable income.
Our partnerships to help end animal testing
Our scientists have been developing and using alternatives to animal testing to assess the safety of cosmetics since the 1980s. We believe that using human-relevant science and new technology is the best way to assess product safety, and for decades we’ve worked closely with governments and the scientific community all over the world to share our research.
In 2018, Unilever became the first major international company to announce support for calls to bring a global end to animal testing for cosmetics. We established a multi-year partnership with Humane Society International and joined its #BeCrueltyFree initiative.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) lists Unilever as one of just five companies recognised as “working for regulatory change”.
Some of our beauty and personal care brands are now PETA-approved and listed on PETA’s global Beauty Without Bunnies website.
In March 2021, our list includes: Chistaya Linia, Dove, Emerge, Love Beauty and Planet, Simple, St. Ives, Suave, Sunsilk, the good stuff and Zendium.
Use science not animals
We announced our support for calls to bring a global end to all animal testing for cosmetics back in 2018.
We’ve been developing and using non-animal methods for decades and firmly believe there is no need for animal testing to assure the safety of our beauty and personal care products. Our position is clear. We say use science, not animals.
That’s why we’re taking a stand against recently announced requirements from the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
Since 2013, the EU Cosmetics Regulation has banned animal testing on ingredients used in cosmetics in Europe. But in August 2020, ECHA said that certain substances should undergo animal testing, even if they are for use solely in cosmetics. These ingredients have a long history of safe use by consumers and have been handled safely in factories for many years.
A return to mandated animal testing risks undermining the progress that’s been made through decades of collaboration between the scientific community and so many others. Read more about our position here.
The refill revolution
Across our global business, we’ve pledged to halve the use of virgin plastic in our packaging by 2025 and remove 100,000 tonnes of plastic entirely.
One way we’re cutting back on plastic is by introducing refillable packaging for some of our leading beauty and personal care brands. We’re running pilot programmes all over the world, learning from the results and scaling up our success stories.
Recent launches include Sunsilk (sold locally as Sedal), which introduced aluminium bottles and refill pumps in Walmart stores in Mexico. Love Beauty and Planet has also launched reusable aluminium bottles and refills in bottles made from 100% recycled, fully recyclable plastic.
And Dove, our biggest beauty and personal care brand, has launched refillable deodorant sticks in the US, sold in durable stainless steel cases that are built to last.
Read more about Unilever’s refill programmes here
Closing the loop on plastic
Post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic now accounts for more than 10% of Unilever’s plastics footprint. We’re working towards doubling that amount during 2021 as we make progress towards our goal of using at least 25% PCR by 2025.
To share just three examples from our beauty and personal care portfolio, Dove now uses 100% recycled bottles across Europe and North America. The move includes Dove Men+Care and Baby Dove bottles too, and the brand is working on recycled plastic solutions for pumps and caps. Dove will save 20,500 tonnes of virgin plastic per year as a result of the switch.
All Love Beauty and Planet bottles are made from 100% recycled materials – that’s the reason the brand’s transparent bottles have a hint of grey and aren’t completely clear.
And TRESemmé has started switching part of its portfolio to 100% PCR across the US and Brazil – its two largest markets. In Brazil, 99% of all the brand's bottles are now PCR.
Solving the black plastic challenge
For TRESemmé and Lynx (sold in other countries as Axe), black bottles are synonymous with the brands. They look great, but there’s a catch. Black plastic can be hard for sorting machines to detect at recycling plants. The infra-red light such machines use is absorbed by black pigment.
In 2019, Unilever teams worked closely with several partners to address the issue, carrying out extensive trials at recycling facilities in the UK and Ireland, and in North America.
Together, they came up with a solution: a new black pigment that can be used with recycled plastic, which optical sorting machines can see.
Now we’re sharing this innovation and the insights generated with other manufacturers, to enable wider use of the new, detectable plastic and help more plastic to stay in the circular economy, not the environment.
Read more about our work on black plastics here
Ocean plastic, reinvented
REN has worked in partnership with recycling innovator TerraCycle to create a new 100% recycled bottle, containing 20% reclaimed ocean plastic.
The ocean plastic used in every bottle of REN’s Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Wash is collected from oceans and beaches, and from rivers, lakes and the banks of waterways.
And it’s not just the bottle that’s better. The body wash also features a metal-free pump, making recycling every piece of the product’s packaging much simpler.
In the US, REN has partnered with the grassroots charity Surfrider Foundation since 2018, combining the brand’s expertise on packaging waste and taking a stand against plastic pollution in the environment. In the UK, REN has a similar partnership in place with NGO Planet Patrol.