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Unilever Moves Zero-Waste Goal Five Years Closer

More than half of Unilever’s factories achieved the goal of sending no waste to landfill in 2012, prompting the company to speed up by five years its goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020.

By the end of 2015, Unilever’s 252 factories worldwide will not sent any non-hazardous waste to landfill, the company announced today.

In addition to reducing its waste in 2012, Unilever also grew the company, reporting annual sales last year of €51 billion ($67.9 billion) — up from €46.5 billion in 2011 and €40 billion in 2010, when the company set the goal of doubling the size of its business while reducing its environmental impact and increasing its positive social impact.

Under its Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever announced that by 2020, total waste sent for disposal will be at or below 2008 levels, despite producing significantly higher volumes.

Unilever has already reached the milestone of 100 percent of sites sending zero waste to landfill in 18 countries. More than 130 Unilever factories across the world, from Costa Rica to Japan, send no non-hazardous waste to landfill, up from 74 at the start of 2012. This equates to a cost saving of about €70 million, according to Unilever.

The company says the key driver for this reduction is an increase in recycling and reuse. For example, in Russia, Unilever says it annually collects a few metric tons of perforated outer-tea bags, which are then used for wallpaper and sold in pet shops as animal bedding. In Hefei, China, Unilever reduced plastics used for wrapping boxes on pallets by replacing the material with reusable elastic fabrics.

For the second year in a row, Unilever is the top-rated company in terms of its global warming commitments, according to the Climate Counts 2012-2013 Annual Company Scorecard Report, published in December 2012.

Last week, Unilever along with Tata Global Beverages, Yorkshire Tea, Finlays and several organizations from across the tea value chain launched the second phase of Tea 2030, a project aimed at developing sustainability innovations to help secure the industry’s long-term future.

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