Unilever's Dove brand will use only 100% recycled plastic bottles in North America and Europe by the end of 2019 -- “where technically feasible,” it says -- and will package single packs of Dove in plastic-free material around the world starting next year.
“Development is also underway to replace the plastic outer wrap of beauty bar multipacks with a zero-plastic material,” Unilever reports.
More radically, earlier this year, Unilever disclosed that Dove, Degree and Axe will begin testing new stick deodorant containers made of stainless steel designed to be reused and refilled up to 100 times. Calculating that a consumer would use one stick a month, that container could last more than eight years. Dove also reiterated its plans for this development on Monday.
But for now -- or at least the near future -- the move to recycled plastic for containers will apply for Dove and its branch brands, Dove Men+Care and Baby Dove.
“Dove continues to search for solutions where recycled plastic is not currently technically feasible, including for caps and pumps,” it says.
A Nielsen report says 73% of millennials will pay more for a product made from sustainable material, and now many packages boldly boast their environmental qualifications for consumers to see.
Many major brands are working on similar initiatives, but Dove says it’s ahead of the pack.
“By taking these steps, Dove will be the biggest brand in the world that has moved to 100% recycled packaging," says Richard Slater, Unilever chief research and development officer, in a statement. “This should send a clear signal to the global recycling industry that there is a huge consumer demand for recycled packaging. We will continue to innovate across our brands to change the way we use plastic for good.”
Earlier this month, Unilever committed itself to cutting its use of virgin plastic by half -- that's more than 100,000 tons -- by 2025, and to helping to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells. It claims those goals make it the “first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio.”
For the recyclable deodorant sticks, Unilever is working with a Trenton, New Jersey company named Terra Cycle whose Loop system is not only being tested on several Unilever products worldwide but also by products from Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Nestle and other major brands.
Under the arrangement that Unilever announced earlier, consumers would order goods from the Loop website and have them delivered conventionally. But customers will pay a deposit. When they are done, they can bring it to a retailer for a refill, or return it for a refund. The containers are cleaned and reused. '
Loop is also testing a delivery plan for a wide variety of consumer goods.Unilever has said it wants all of its plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. It believes it is making good progress, and says the company’’s packaging volume is now at the same level it was in 2010, despite “the business growing significantly.”