Unilever North America announced on Tuesday it has achieved 100 percent zero waste to landfill (ZLF) at all dedicated distribution centers in North America.
To achieve ZLF, the company has adopted the four ‘R’ approach — firstly reducing waste at source then reusing, recovering or recycling any non-hazardous waste that remains. It has meant reconsidering every single material that is consumed in a factory and distribution center — from reusing packing materials from supplier deliveries to food waste from staff cafeterias.
Unilever says reducing waste sent for disposal is a critical component of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Established in 2010, the plan aims to halve company’s environmental footprint of the making and use of its products by 2020. This is being achieved through collaboration, partner education and reducing the company’s environmental impact.
Unilever reached ZLF at all of its owned facilities in North America in April 2013. The company says it continued to expand its goals by looking for ways to collaborate with partners, such as third-party distribution centers, which house the company’s finished goods.
Solutions to avoid sending finished goods to landfill include focused inventory management, composting, creating animal feed, package recycling and generating biodiesel fuel. Eliminating waste in distribution centers resulted in cost savings of more than $1.9 million in 2013.
In January, Unilever announced it achieved a key sustainability target of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill from its global factory network. The company said the milestone not only represents a significant step towards its ambition to double its size while reducing its environmental impact, the effort has eliminated more than $212 million in costs and created hundreds of jobs.