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Unilever: Turning the tide against plastic waste


Dealing with plastic waste is one of today’s biggest environmental challenges. Unilever understands that better recycling alone will not solve the problem and is therefore seeking to also address plastic waste at its source. Through its brand Dove, the company has launched ambitious new initiatives to accelerate the progress in reducing plastic waste.

Initiatives for long-term impact

Through a combination of alternative packaging materials, recycled plastic where needed, and investing in refill technology, Dove seeks to create new value for plastics and reduce the volume of plastic packaging it produces.

Dove’s reduction plan aims to reduce the use of virgin plastic by more than 20,500 tonnes per year, enough to circle the Earth 2.7 times (calculated on the basis of lining up Dove 473mL bottles end to end). The brand has opted for long-term initiatives rather than one-off limited actions to ensure a greater and sustained impact. Dove’s initiatives will contribute to Unilever’s recently announced new commitments on plastic: to halve its use of virgin plastic by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes, to accelerate its use of recycled plastic, and to help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells.

Accelerating activity

To meet its goals and generate lasting impact, Dove is accelerating and expanding its actions following the NO | BETTER | LESS PLASTIC framework. The first pillar of this framework is to eliminate the use of plastics where possible by using alternative materials and new packaging formats. The second is to reduce the use of virgin plastic by launching 100% recycled plastic (PCR) bottles where technically feasible in North America and Europe. Dove continues to search for solutions where recycled plastic is not currently technically feasible, including for caps and pumps.

Finally Dove will leverage the technology behind its new reusable, refillable, stainless steel format deodorant sticks. This technology minimises waste by substantially reducing the amount of plastic required. The sticks will be trialled as part of Dove’s new minimal waste, direct-to-consumer shopping initiative.

A catalyst for change

Dove’s latest initiatives build on Unilever and Dove’s long history of action on plastic alternatives. Unilever is a core partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastic Economy initiative, and Dove has avoided the use of more than 10,000 tonnes of virgin plastic in the last decade. Dove already has more than 100 initiatives ongoing around the world dedicated to tackling plastic waste. Through NO | BETTER | LESS PLASTIC, the brand is committed to catalysing change by shifting both commercial and consumer behaviour.

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