If landfill is in the past, where does waste go?
A new interactive map showcases the scale and global impact Unilever has made by sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill from all of our 242 manufacturing sites.
New ways to use what we used to throw away
In 2014, Unilever sent no non-hazardous waste to landfill from any of our network of factories and manufacturing sites – exceeding our own targets, which we had set for 2020. Reducing waste at source remains our number one priority, with all the leftover materials being recycled, reused or recovered.
So what has happened to this so-called waste?
The answer is – amazing things.
Sachet waste in the Philippines gets turned it into concrete blocks for construction or household items. Waste from food production in India is turned into compost for vegetable growing. And in Argentina, we recycle paper, cardboard and deodorant cans so that local children can use them for painting and decorating.
Mapping the journey to zero waste
Now, in partnership with 2degrees, there is a new Global Collaboration Map, where you can see the full scale of this achievement. Simply use the filters to see all of Unilever’s waste management projects and click on each pin to find out more information about the factory and examples of what happens to the waste.
Making sustainable living commonplace
Reducing waste was a target we set ourselves in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, our blueprint for achieving Unilever’s purpose of making sustainable living commonplace.
Waste reduction has clear environmental benefits, but it has also had other benefits. Our zero waste programme has resulted in more than €200 million of cost savings and avoidance, while creating more than 1,000 job opportunities.
Waste plastic is compressed to make low-cost building materials, with other waste being turned into animal feed, organic fertiliser and green energy. We also donate rejected soap in North America to Clean the World, a global programme aiming to improve health and hygiene. In Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, we compost tea dust and filter paper to create fertiliser for 56 local community gardens, producing food and empowering communities.
Recovering waste also creates energy savings. For example, in Brazil, our biomass boiler uses recycled wood to generate energy – one of 40 sites across the world now using biogenic fuels and replacing the equivalent of 230,000 tonnes of coal.
Follow the waste journey now
Find out more about our waste programme using the Global Collaboration Map. With so many innovative uses for waste, some may argue that we need a new term for it altogether. Find out more from Tony Dunnage, Group Environmental Manager.