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Unilever acts for a green future
By Thuan An
Sunday,  Nov 15, 2020,15:04 (GMT+7)

Unilever acts for a green future

By Thuan An

Early this year, Unilever Vietnam has joined hands with SCG, Dow and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to form the first public private partnership to build the circular-economy model for plastics waste in Vietnam - PHOTO: UNILEVER VIETNAM

On every Saturday, Ms. Khang in Quarter No. 25 on Nguyen Gia Thieu Street in Hanoi City’s Hoan Kiem District takes a large bag of plastic bottles to a recyclable waste collection site near her house. Her plastic bottles can be exchanged for different gifts, such as a bottle of dishwasher or a pack of washing powder. She has never thought that her habit of sorting waste would benefit her like this.

She is one of thousands of residents in Hoan Kiem District who have since last month been participating in a program to segregate waste at source in connection with collecting and treating plastic waste in Hanoi, jointly held by Hanoi Urban Environment Company (URENCO) and Unilever Vietnam.

In addition to bringing recyclable waste to “green day” sites every Saturday to exchange for Unilever’s products, residents can use the Mgreen app to choose gifts and set time for environmental workers to come to their houses to collect recyclable waste.

Recyclable and non-recyclable waste will be collected and treated separately. Recyclable plastic waste will be processed to create new products, while non-recyclable plastic waste will be treated properly, using available technologies.

In June, Unilever Vietnam and URENCO signed an agreement to conduct a waste segregation at source program in Hanoi which includes communication and education for behavior change activities to help residents forming the habit of segregating waste at source and then followed up by collecting and recycling the waste.

As planned, in 2021, the program will be expanded to four downtown districts of Hanoi to further establish the habit for the residents and make the city cleaner everyday.

Besides, the two sides are working on a plan to share the model to other urban environment companies to expand the program nationwide.

Do Thai Vuong, vice president of sustainable business and communications at Unilever Vietnam, said the company aims to build a circular-economy model for plastics, in which plastic waste will be segregated, collected, and recycled to  serve people’s lives. Plastics should be returned back to create values in our economy, not end up becoming waste in our environment.

In Vietnam, segregating waste at source is the biggest challenge in developing a circular economy model for plastic waste. In order to recycle plastic waste in a sustainable and professional manner with a large scale, sorting out waste properly after discharge is the very first step that needs the support from the whole society. Therefore, Unilever Vietnam has cooperated with URENCO to conduct the program, firstly in Hanoi City, Vuong added.

Cooperating with URENCO is one of the four strategies that Unilever Vietnam is pursuing to build the circular economy for plastic waste.

The three other strategies are technologies and innovations in the recycling sector; policies and regulations to support the development of the circular economy; and communication and education for raising awareness and changing behavior.

Since early this year, Unilever Vietnam has joined hands with SCG, Dow and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to form the first public private partnership to build the circular-economy model for plastics waste in Vietnam.

Unilever Vietnam and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment are currently co-chairing this public private partnership, in which Unilever Vietnam takes the main responsibility for two pillars which are communication -education and Policies advocacy. Besides, the company is working on projects to support the other two pillars for a comprehensive development of the circular economy for plastic waste in Vietnam.

Vuong stressed that waste, if being sorted and treated properly, can become input materials for various production lines and later serving consumers. By segregating waste, residents have not only helped the economy to optimize resources, but also reduce carbon emissions and keep the environment greener, cleaner and more beautiful.

Representatives of Unilever Vietnam and URENCO pose for a photo after signing an agreement to conduct a waste segregation at source program in Hanoi in June

Unilever Vietnam is committed to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of their products as the business grows, which has been demonstrated in many activities. Specifically, the firm has continuously studied and improved its technology so that its plants have zero waste to landfill and 100% carbon emission is positive carbon. Unilever has also reduced 43% of the water use in production and 48% of electricity used by the firm is renewable energy.

Unilever Vietnam is on the way to deliver its commitments to halve the volume of virgin plastics used in the packaging production, use 100% of recyclable plastics, and collect and treat more plastic waste than the amount it sells by 2025.

This year, Unilever Vietnam has reduced plastics in their packaging products and launched a few initiatives such as installing “Love Beauty and Planet” stations where residents can use their own containers to fill shower cream, shampoo and conditioner products as they buy.

The development of the circular-economy model for plastics waste is a long journey that needs the cooperation and efforts of many economic sectors, State management agencies, local and foreign organizations and residents.

“We are proud to be the pioneer to build the foundation. Despite shortcomings, we believe that with the cooperation and support of our partners, the foundation will be solid to build the circular-economy model in Vietnam,” Vuong said.

Over 25 years of establishment and development in Vietnam, Unilever Vietnam has relentlessly pursued sustainable development strategies to improve the life quality of Vietnamese people.

Besides the strategy of reducing the impact of its production and business on the environment, Unilever Vietnam has conducted many social programs to improve hygiene and health conditions of more than 22 million Vietnamese people; improving livelihood for more than two million people especially women by microfinancing, training, creating jobs.

 

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