A "circular" success story by Unilever & Mr. Green Africa.
Leading consumer goods company Unilever East Africa has launched its first fully recyclable plastic packaging for it’s Sunlight Scouring powder made using 100% recycled malleable materials. Developed as part of a partnership with Mr Green Africa Trading Limited, the new 500 grams and one kilogram packs will be on sale in Kenya and rest of the region. Unilever says the move will mitigate the use of thousands of tonnes of virgin plastic each year, once the switch is completed, thereby eliminating environmental pollution associated with plastics. The launch which is symbolic in closing the post-consumer recyclate loop signifies a major step and pioneer example in creating a fully circular plastic economy for the Kenyan industry.
Bruno Witvoet, Unilever Africa President said; “At Unilever we want to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint. Today marks a great milestone in our circular economy journey. The launch of the first truly circular plastic packaging for Sunlight scouring powder in Kenya is a great win for the environment and goes a long away in our quest to ensure that plastic only remains in our economy and stays clear of the environment.” The move comes as part of Unilever’s quest to halve its use of virgin plastic, by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes while accelerating the use of recycled plastic. It also puts the consumer goods company on a firm path to achieving its existing commitments to ensure all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging by the same year.
"We are incredibly excited and humbled to be at the frontier of this real world example of a localized circular plastic economy. This is an important milestone to demonstrate that it is possible to create a sustainable, inclusive, traceable and fair circular plastics economy in emerging markets, with Kenya being the thought leader country to enable this.” Said Keiran Smith, Co-Founder & CEO Mr. Green Trading Africa.
The two firms called on manufacturers, the government and Kenyans in general to join the gospel of plastic recycling by better managing waste during the occasion conducted at Mr Green Africa Trading office in Industrial Area, Nairobi. “We look forward to continue to shift the status-quo together with all local and international stakeholders that significantly contributed to this important achievement.” Added Keiran
More than 6 billion people – one-third of them children – regularly breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and well-being at risk, a risk Unilever says it’s trying to mitigate through its “U-Turn waste project” that aims to achieve a key sustainability target of creating a circular economy for all its packaging materials, especially plastic.
Justin Apsey, Unilever East Africa CEO said that the move clearly demonstrates Unilever’s intent matched by action in driving responsible consumption and leading to create a brighter future for all Kenyans. “This is a pioneer breakthrough for the country by virtue of closing the plastic loop through collection, processing and repackaging right here in Kenya. It is a practical demonstration of what a truly circular economy for our plastic packaging should be and we commit to lead the way in driving even faster progress in this space.” said Mr. Apsey during a ceremony.
The zero waste to landfill target forms a key element of Unilever’s sustainable growth ambition. Nairobi produces around 2,400 tonnes of waste a day, of which roughly 60 percent is collected and only around 10 percent recycled. The rest is dumped illegally or burned.