Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan cleans up at the Gold Pack Awards

Unilever made a clean sweep at the Gold Pack Awards 2019. The company bagged four gold medals in various categories, including the Judge’s Special Mention for the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

The Gold Pack Awards recognizes and celebrates South African companies in the packaging industry who represent innovation and professionalism in packaging. Awards nominees were evaluated on teamwork, co-operation and creative problem solving to emerge as worthy flag-bearers in the packaging industry.

What consumers want

The FMCG giant was declared a winner in the Health, Beauty, Medical & Pharmaceutical, Household and Substrate Excellence categories for its Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Shrink Sleeve Range; Sunlight Dishwash Liquid and Brut aluminum aerosol deodorant respectively, and a finalist for the Comfort Fabric Softener and Dawn Body Lotion ranges.

‘We pride ourselves in developing an in-depth understanding of what consumers want and utilize our expertise in science and technology to innovate boldly for people and the planet,’ says Jennifer Cromie, R&D director at Unilever.

Unilever wins at Gold Pack Awards 2019
Bill Marshall, Institute of Packaging of South Africa (IPSA) national secretary with Unilever SA representatives Mmabore Molaba, assistant packaging manager; Sanesh Allopi, packaging manager; Aman Ramdayal, assistant packaging manager and Garth Williams, packaging manager

‘The awards which we humbly accept are testament to the relentless efforts of the R&D team and our commitment to sustainable growth. For the judges to sit up and take notice of the impact of our initiatives through Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan must mean we are doing something right.’

Sustainable living

The Sustainable Living Plan sets out to decouple Unilever’s growth from its environmental footprint, while increasing its positive social impact. Launched in 2010, it has three main goals, one of which is to halve the company’s environmental impact by 2020.

The award for Judge’s Special Mention for Sustainability does not form part of the category awards and is instead a separate award bestowed on companies at the discretion of the judges.

Up to 80 percent of the waste in Africa is recyclable and yet only four percent is recycled.

In striving towards a waste-free world, Unilever is building partnerships to drive an inclusive circular economy by rethinking every step of each product’s lifecycle, from packaging design and manufacturing, to consumer use, collection and recycling.

A circular economy is one in which products and materials are recycled, repaired and reused rather than thrown away, and in which waste from one industrial process becomes a valued input into another.

Unilever has confirmed that by 2025 it will:

  • Halve its use of virgin plastic, by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100 000 tonnes and accelerating its use of recycled plastic
  • Help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.

Unilever will also continue to work towards their existing commitment, made in 2017, to ensure that all their plastic packaging is 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable and include a minimum of 25 percent recycled plastic. The Sunlight Liquid, Dawn Body Lotion and Comfort Fabric Conditioner bottles are examples of packaging that are already made from 100 percent recycled plastic and is fully recyclable.

This commitment makes Unilever the first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio.

Extrupet, one of the largest and most advanced recyclers of rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) bottle materials on the African continent, commended Unilever on being a frontrunner of rPET use in SA, its commitment to improving packaging sustainability and performance at the Gold Pack Awards 2019.

Unilever is also working with partners to improve legislation around waste management. One of the ways in which this is being achieved is by integrating reclaimers or ‘waste pickers’ into the recycling economy and ensuring they are paid for the valuable service they provide.