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Unilever takes award in Recycled Plastics Competition

Unilever’s commitment to halve waste from disposal of its products is already being recognised, winning in the “Best Recycled Plastics Product of the Year” Competition.

At a gala dinner event organised by the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO) in Johannesburg, the company’s Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid Bottle took the Silver Award in the Percentage of Recycled Content category.

Through its membership of the PET Plastic Recycling Company (PETCO) and in conjunction with its suppliers, Unilever has been able to utilise post consumer recycled PET in its Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid Bottles by up to 25%, with a view to increasing the recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) content to 50 % by the end of 2012.

This will contribute to reducing Unilever’s packaging to waste stream by approximately 240 tonnes annually.

The“Best Recycled Plastics Product of the Year” Competition encourages brand owners and industrial designers to consider recycled plastics as a material of choice.

The Judges Special Award went to the Bottleworx Building System.

SAPRO Chairman, Douglas Greig, said: “This competition has grown in leaps and bounds since we introduced the awards for the first time three years ago.

“We were thrilled with the entries we received both in terms of quality and quantity. This reflects the local plastic recycling industry’s growth in size, sophistication and value”.

Greig said brand owners were under constant pressure from the environmentally conscious consumer to become more “green”.

“Consumers want to know that their packaging and plastics products are not damaging the environment and there is a major tendency for consumers to want to feel good and to be doing the right thing when they are buying a product.

“The average consumer is not prepared to sacrifice his popular brand or to make any sacrifices himself, but he is looking towards the brand owner to assist him in his environmentally conscious decisions.”

At the end of its useful life, the product should be allowed to enter the recycling stream and be fully recyclable.

“Recycled PET only recently became available in South Africa and the demand exceeds the supply.

“It is crucial that leading brands such as Sunlight lead the way in educating consumers as to the merits of recycling and the positive impact that this move has and will have on the environment.

“SAPRO would like to see the bottle introduced to the market proudly carrying its recycled content and proclaiming its environmental accountability,” Greig added.

Working in partnership with industry, governments and NGO s, Unilever aims to increase recycling and recovery rates on average by five percent by 2015 and by 15% by 2020.

Georgina Claassen, Packaging Development Technologist at Unilever SA said: “Packaging is important: it protects our products, allows us to transport them safely, and ultimately saves far more energy than it consumes.

“At the same time it can end up as waste. Hence we share a responsibility with our consumers to prevent packaging from ending up either in landfill or blighting the landscape as litter by attempting to recycle packaging as much as possible.

“The more we reduce our packaging, the greater the savings in materials, energy and transport. The challenge is to continue to use packaging that is appealing and effective but to reduce significantly its environmental impacts.

“Our approach to this is to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

Unilever South Africa - Unathi Mgobozi External Affairs Manager

+27 31 570 3000
031 570 2470
Unathi.Mgobozi@unilever.com

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