Our waste footprint

We measure our waste footprint to identify the biggest opportunities for packaging reductions.

Our impacts

We use over 2 million tonnes of packaging a year, from paper, board, metals such as aluminium and steel, to glass and mixed material laminates used in sachets and pouches.

We have assessed our waste holistically, looking at the packaging and product together. This is because the impacts of wasted product, whether it is shampoo or soup, can be much greater than the environmental impacts of the packaging alone. We also look at packaging waste in the context of local recycling infrastructure. If systems are in place to reuse and capture the value contained in packaging, this reduces the overall environmental impact of the packaging.

“Increasing resource scarcity means it is more urgent than ever to be efficient with packaging and make it easy for consumers to recycle or reuse rather than sending packaging to landfill,” explains Louis Lindenberg, our Sustainable Packaging Director. “By analysing our footprint in detail we can identify the biggest opportunities to reduce our packaging impacts.”

Our metric

We measure the waste impact of our products by including packaging material that has not been reused, recovered or recycled, and the product left over in the pack. We calculate our waste metric annually at an absolute level as well as ‘per consumer use’, this means for example the waste impact of one serving of soup.

For this calculation, we gather data for a large group of products that is representative of our portfolio. We include products from all our 12 sub-categories: Baking Cooking and Spreads, Beverages, Deodorants, Dressings, Hair Care, Household Care, Ice Cream, Laundry, Oral Care, Savoury, Skin Care and Skin Cleansing. We focus our calculation on 14 key countries. This enables us to have a representative overview of the waste impact covering more than 70% of our sales volume in the key countries.

The waste generated by our manufacturing operations is measured separately as part of our eco-efficiency programme. For more information, see Eco-efficiency in manufacturing.

Our waste footprint (2014-2015)

  • 60%

    Primary packaging

  • 16%

    Transport packaging

  • 25%

    Product leftovers

  • [X%]

    National index of material recycled and recovered/estimates

Measured 1 July 2014 - 30 June 2015

Our absolute waste footprint is around 800,000 tonnes. This is equivalent to 0.6g per consumer use. The 2014-2015 figures, as well as the 2010 figures, are slightly lower than reported last year due to updating of our databases, including updated national and industry-association indices for recycling and recovery.

Our analysis has highlighted that our food packaging is one of the biggest contributors to our waste footprint. Products from our Savoury, Beverages and Ice Cream sub-categories, for example, account for more than a third of our total waste footprint. Our laundry products also represent a large share of our waste footprint.

Measured by material type, paper and board and flexible laminates make up more than half of our waste footprint.

Assurance of our waste metric

In 2016, for the first time, PwC undertook independent assurance of our latest waste performance measure (2014-2015) as well as our 2010 waste baseline. Please see Independent Assurance for more details of our assurance programme.

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