The company said meeting this goal has saved it €200m in costs, and finding innovative ways to reuse waste has created hundreds of jobs. While reducing waste at source has been its primary focus, it has also turned waste into building materials in Cote D’Ivoire, composted organic waste for use by local farmers in India to grow vegetables, and waste from its largest Asian plant, in Hefei, China, has been used to make bricks and paving.
“Reaching this landmark is the result of a huge mind-set shift throughout our organisation and a great example of Unilever driving sustainable business growth,” said Unilever’s chief supply chain officer Pier Luigi Sigismondi.
“Thousands of employees - our ‘zero-makers’ – from across the business have developed some really innovative solutions to eliminate waste. I am incredibly proud of what we and our partners have achieved.
“However we cannot stop here. Our focus now is on becoming a zero waste company and working towards a zero waste value chain by encouraging our suppliers and customers to join us on this mission. We are also committed to developing an open source approach and sharing our ‘zero waste framework’ and experience with other organisations to drive global change and create a more sustainable future”.
The zero waste to landfill target involved reconsidering every material used in a factory, the company said, from packing materials to food waste from staff cafeterias.
The goal was added in 2012 to its Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to double the size of Unilever’s business while halving its environmental impact.