Unilever North America Investment Will Recover More than Half of its Plastic Packaging Footprint

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Mar 16, 2021

Company will collect more plastic than it sells by 2025 through Closed Loop Partners investment and shift to recycled plastic 

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Unilever North America announced today a $15 million investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund to help recycle an estimated 60,000 metric tons of U.S. plastic packaging waste annually by 2025, an amount equivalent to more than half of Unilever’s plastics footprint in North America. The impact of Unilever’s new investment and its continued use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic packaging, which is approximately 59,000 metric tons per year, will underpin the delivery of its commitment to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells by 2025.

Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund is a private equity fund that acquires and grows companies across the value chain working to increase recycling and keep valuable materials in the circular economy and out of landfills.

“We believe plastics’ place is inside the circular economy where it is reused, and not in the environment,” said Fabian Garcia, President of Unilever North America. “We’re advocating to transform the recycling system for a waste-free world, and we urgently need business investment to help make it happen.”

“Unilever is a pioneer and leader when it comes to recognizing the economic, social and environmental value of embedding circular economy principles throughout their business, critically moving from ambitious commitments and goals to tangible action and progress,” said Ron Gonen, Founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners. “Unilever’s investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund, in addition to its existing investment in our Infrastructure Fund, will help accelerate the shift toward more circular supply chains by scaling best-in-class circular business models and supporting the technological breakthroughs and sustainable innovations that keep valuable materials continuously cycling in manufacturing supply chains.”

Unilever’s goal to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells is a part of its ambitious set of “Waste-Free World” commitments. Those global commitments include halving use of virgin plastic; ensuring all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; and using at least 25 percent recycled plastic in its packaging.

Half of the 118,000 metric tons of plastic packaging used by Unilever North America is PCR plastic. Many of its brands, including Dove, Hellmann’s, and Seventh Generation, already use 100 percent PCR bottles. The investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund will help secure additional PCR plastic supply for Unilever brands and increase access to recycled plastic feedstock processed by the companies the Fund invests in.

In addition to its private investments to improve recycling, Unilever is advocating for producer responsibility legislation that would significantly increase broader investment needed from the industry to transform the recycling system. The company is working with major CPG companies through the Circular Economy Accelerators to promote a plan for brands to fund needed recycling infrastructure investments in the U.S. In Canada, Unilever North America participates in extended producer responsibility programs in provinces with established programs.

Note to Editors:

Unilever’s Waste-Free World commitments:

By 2025, Unilever will:

  • Halve our use of virgin plastic, by reducing our absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tons
  • Help collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell
  • Ensure that 100 percent of our plastic packaging is designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • Increase the use of post-consumer recycled plastic material in our packaging to at least 25 percent

Unilever will transform its approach to plastic packing through its ‘Less plastic. Better plastic. No plastic.’ internal framework. The framework – which was implemented in 2017 – outlines the approach to achieving its commitments and guides its innovation.

  • ‘Less plastic’ is about cutting down the amount of plastic used in the first place.
  • ‘Better plastic’ is about making products recyclable and eliminating problematic materials. Specifically, it’s about getting recycled content into our packaging.
  • And ‘no plastic’ is about thinking differently – using alternative materials such as aluminum, glass, paper and board where possible and removing plastic where it is not necessary.

Learn more on Unilever’s Waste-Free World hub.

About Unilever North America
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Beauty & Personal Care, Home Care, and Foods & Refreshment products, with sales in over 190 countries and products used by 2.5 billion people every day. We have 149,000 employees and generated sales of €50.7 billion in 2020. Over half of our footprint is in developing and emerging markets. We have around 400 brands found in homes all over the world. In the United States and Canada, the portfolio includes iconic brand such as: Dove, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Magnum, Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, St. Ives, Suave, TRESemmé, and Vaseline.

Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable business and to demonstrate how our purpose-led, future-fit business model drives superior performance. We have a long tradition of being a progressive, responsible business. It goes back to the days of our founder William Lever, who launched the world’s first purposeful brand, Sunlight Soap, more than 100 years ago, and it’s at the heart of how we run our company today.

The Unilever Compass, our sustainable business strategy, is set out to help us deliver superior performance and drive sustainable and responsible growth, while:

  • improving the health of the planet;
  • improving people’s health, confidence and wellbeing; and
  • contributing to a fairer and more socially inclusive world.

While there is still more to do, we are proud to have been recognized in 2020 as a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and – for the tenth-consecutive year – as the top ranked company in the 2020 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Sustainability Leaders survey.

For more information on Unilever U.S. and its brands visit: www.unileverusa.com

For more information on Unilever Canada and its brands visit: www.unilever.ca

About the Closed Loop Leadership Fund at Closed Loop Partners
The Closed Loop Leadership Fund is Closed Loop Partners’ private equity fund, focused on acquiring best-in-class circular business models that are fundamental to keeping plastics and packaging, food and organics, electronics and textiles out of landfills and within a circular system. Closed Loop Partners is a New York-based investment firm comprised of venture capital, growth equity, private equity, project-based finance and an innovation center focused on building the circular economy. The firm’s business verticals build upon one another, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy.

To learn about the Closed Loop Leadership Fund, visit Closed Loop Partners’ website.