Waste Free World, a joint initiative between Unilever and Alibaba Group, is the first of its kind and is expected to accelerate the process of returning high grade plastic back into a closed-loop recycling system.
There are currently 20 of the recycling machines installed in offices and community spaces in Shanghai and Hangzhou in China. Both partners plan to have 500 of the deposit machines in China, mainly in the 2 city areas, collecting up to 500 tonnes of plastic materials.
The recycling machines utilise artificial intelligence (AI) technology as it is able to identify the type of plastics and sort them accordingly. Customers scan the QR code found on the bottle before placing them into the recycling machine. This ‘Waste Free World’ project will help to change consumer behavior through the incentives provided in the form of Unilever coupons and AliPay rewards.
The bottles recycled plastic granules will then be applied to the packaging of future Unilever products, before going back on shelf.
Rohit Jawa, Executive Vice President of North Asia, Unilever said, “By 2025, we will make an absolute reduction of 100,000 tonnes in plastic use and promote the use of recyclable plastic, so that we can halve the amount of virgin plastic we use in packaging and help collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell. We believe Waste Free World jointly launched with Alibaba Group will become the green engine of the circular economy for plastic packaging in China.”