Unilever says it has achieved its target of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill from its global factory network, avoiding €200 million ($226 million) of costs and creating hundreds of jobs.
Unilever in 2013 pledged by the end of 2015, its factories worldwide would not sent any non-hazardous waste to landfill.
The company says hazardous waste represents a very small percentage of total factory waste — the types of materials that make up hazardous waste vary due to differing local waste regulations around the world.
Unilever says it believes this to be a global first for delivering zero waste on this scale, with more than 240 factories in 67 countries making products for brands such as Magnum, Knorr, Dove and Domestos that have now eliminated landfill waste.
In addition to reducing waste at source — which Unilever says remains the no. 1 priority — Unilever and its project partners are reusing remaining materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. For example, in Cote D’Ivoire, waste has been turned into low cost building materials; in India, organic waste is being composted and shared with the local community to grow vegetables and in China, waste from Hefei, Unilever’s largest factory in Asia, is being used in the manufacture of bricks and paving.