August 10, 2015
A small change to the packaging of tea bags helped Unilever eliminate 28 tonnes of waste heading to landfill.
Unilever, the maker of some of Australia’s most recognised grocery brands and a sponsor of National Recycling Week 2014, has a worldwide aim of reducing the overall weight of their packaging by a third by 2020. They were recognised at the recent Australian Packaging Covenant Awards.
Sustainability is woven though the design stages of all packaging and is consistently reviewed as a way to drive progress towards achieving the 2020 objective. In 2014 progress was made with the high profile Lipton, Dove, and Streets ice cream ranges. An example of this change was the removal of the foil wrapping in the Lipton hot tea packaging. This resulted in a reduction in primary packaging of 32% for the 50 Tea Bag Pack and 35% for 100 Tea Bag Pack. Overall this change eliminates around 28 tonnes of foil laminate ending up in landfill each year.
One of the key sustainability highlights for the company in 2014 came when it achieved zero non-hazardous waste to landfill for its Australian manufacturing sites. This was achieved by tailoring waste reductions strategies at each of sites. Specific strategies used to reach this impressive outcome included replacing single use coffee cups with ‘Keepcups’, shredding waste pallets for chicken bedding and sending organic material to Earthpower to generate energy.
Research carried out by Planet Ark showed that 54% of Australians incorrectly believed that aerosol cans weren’t recyclable with a further 12% saying they weren’t sure. To address this gap in knowledge, Unilever sponsored Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week with a specific aim of improving knowledge and increasing recycling. Post event research showed a 6% increase in people correctly identifying aerosols as being recyclable.
These activities helped Unilever achieved the highest scoring organisation in the "Large Pharmacy and Personal Care" category at the Australian Packaging Awards for 2015.
Brad was Planet Ark's Head of Campaigns for 10 years. He trained and worked as a history and geography teacher before moving into the health education sector for 14 years. With a strong passion for human environments, Brad started with Planet Ark in 2007 as Recycling Programs Manager.