A paltry 14% of plastic packaging is recycled globally. For its part, Unilever has pledged to make its packaging completely ‘recyclable, reusable or compostable’ by the middle of the next decade.

The parent company for some of the world’s most recognisable brands, it is also pioneering new technology to combat the scourge of sachet waste. Its CreaSolv® Process tech, developed with the Fraunhofer Institute, is a circular  system which extracts the plastic for use in new sachets used for the company’s products.

“Billions of sachets are used once and just thrown away, all over the world, ending up in landfill or in our waterways and oceans. At the start of this year we made a commitment to help solve this problem, developing new recycling technologies. We intend to make this tech open source and would hope to scale the technology with industry partners, so others – including our competitors – can use it,” said David Blanchard, Chief R&D Officer at Unilever.

“There is a clear economic case for delivering this. We know that globally $80-120 billion is lost to the economy through failing to properly recycle plastics each year. Finding a solution represents a huge opportunity. We believe that our commitment to making 100% of our packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable will support the long-term growth of our business.”

To gauge the commercial viability of the technology, Unilever will open a pilot plant in Indonesia later this year.

The company says it recognises the challenges of creating a global system for sustainable plastics and that it is working closely with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation‘s New Plastics Economy initiative to advance circular economy solutions.