As the largest consumer goods company in Bangladesh, Unilever announced a target of collecting more plastic than they produce by 2025. Through baseline research in association with PwC, they identified post- consumption single-use plastic as one of the most critical problems in the entire value chain.
Partnership with Narayanganj City Corporation: The first initiative of the project was launched in Narayanganj to help Narayanganj CityCorporation (NCC) to better manage their plastic waste. 2 million people live in Narayanganj city, which is an industrial and trading hub by the river Shitalakhya. However, due to unplanned landfill and plastic waste pollution, Shitalakhya and other water bodies of Narayanganj are deeply affected. This plastic waste and packaging often end up clogging rivers and other water bodies, causing severe water clogging during monsoon. Unilever Bangladesh, in association with UNDP and NCC, initiated a three-year-long plastic collection project titled ‘Plastic Waste Management: Building Circular Cities’. This is Bangladesh’s largest public-private-development sector plastic waste management initiative. Eco-Social Development Organisation (ESDO) is the implementing partner of the project, while Ernst & Young Global (EY) is working to create citizen awareness of plastic waste management. Launched in October 2021, plastic wastes are now collected from 21 NCC wards, and the project manages 33% o the total plastic waste generated in the city. The company has been working with various stakeholders in
the plastic collection value chain, such as the waste pickers, street cleaners, feri walas and Cleaning Service Organisations (CSOs), and designed 4 customised collection models that would incentivise the value chain to collect more single-use plastic.
The project gained more momentum in 2022 and they have collected around 470 tonnes more plastic from Narayanganj till date. The circularity of plastic in the system is 112 tonnes.
Partnership with Chattogram City Corporation:
Unilever started working in Chattogram through the NGO Young Power in Social Action (YPSA). As they found from research that the waste recycling industry at Chittagong is more mature and capable, they invested in the traders (bhangariwalas) to create a circular value chain.
Under this model, the focus was on the Waste Traders by incentivising their SUP collection while they trained the waste collectors to segregate waste. Unilever partnered with Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) to collaborate with the Cleaning Services Organisation (CSO) and the local ward councilors to engage and motivate the collectors to collect more plastic waste as they could sell it to Traders at a good price. Currently, they are working with 41 wards in Chattogram incorporating 561 waste pickers, 76 CSOs and 42 recyclers in total and the initiative has already been endorsed by Chattogram City Corporation (CCC). CCC is providing regular consultations and councilor meetups.
In total, 1011 additional tonnes of plastic waste was collected from Chattogram till date.
Partnership with Dhaka City Corporations
In partnership with Circular and Garbageman in 2022, Unilever started to bring together waste collectors, increasing transparency in supply chains while also providing job opportunities for people living on less fortunate sides of Dhaka. This agreement started early this year and will show impact in the near future.