United Nations经济和社会事务部 可持续发展

Waste-Free World

Unilever China (
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    Description
    Intro

    As we all know, the plastic problem has become an important factor affecting the environment. With the wide attention of the international community, plastic pollution has been actively dealt with all over the world. Unilever believes that plastic has its uses, but it should not have a negative impact on the environment. Only rapid action and thorough action in all aspects of the plastic cycle can eliminate plastic waste. Unilever's purpose is to make sustainable living common place. Since launched Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) in 2010, it has made significant progress in the environmental, social and economic fields. Unilever has benefited 1.3 billion people around the world through health and hygiene projects; halved greenhouse gas emissions generated in the production process; achieve 100% renewable power; and helped 1.8 million small-scale retailers around the world take action to increase income. Unilever have set a goal to halve its use of virgin plastic, cut plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes and accelerate our use of recycled plastic by 2025. Being part of that drive, in 2020, Unilever and the Alibaba Group have created an Al-enabled recycling system that automatically identifies and sorts plastic packaging. Its aim is to speed high-grade plastic back into the circular economy and move China’s companies and consumers towards a waste-free world.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    The launch of Waste-Free World saw 20 recycling machines installed as part of a pilot programme in offices and community spaces in two of China’s largest cities, Shanghai and Hangzhou. Each machine is equipped with state-of-the-art AI technology which automatically identifies different kinds of plastic bottle. All that customers need to do is to use Alipay – Alibaba’s e-wallet service – to scan the QR code displayed on the screen of the machine and then deposit the bottle into the recycling bin. It’s as simple as that – the machine does all hard work. Using AI technology, it automatically identifies the plastic the bottle is made of, sorts it and stores it, so that it can be collected and returned to recycling centres and fast-tracked for reuse rather than degraded.

    Results/Outputs/Impacts

    Waste-Free World’s AI-enabled recycling equipment, logistics and plastic processing make it possible to create a circular economy for plastic waste. Its ability to pre-sort plastic packaging into its various grades enhances the quality of recycled plastic bottles and means the reuse of plastic materials will be more effective. And that is positive news for Unilever as it drives forward with its commitment to reduce the absolute use of plastic in its products.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    Waste-Free World uses state-of-the-art AI technology which automatically identifies different kinds of plastic bottle. All that customers need to do is to use Alipay – Alibaba’s e-wallet service – to scan the QR code displayed on the screen of the machine and then deposit the bottle into the recycling bin. AI-enabled recycling equipment, logistics and plastic processing make it possible to create a circular economy for plastic waste. Its ability to pre-sort plastic packaging into its various grades enhances the quality of recycled plastic bottles and means the reuse of plastic materials will be more effective.

    Sustainability and replicability

    We are partnering with communities to place more recycling equipment. Waste-Free World project is an open platform to attract more organizations to join to form scale effect.

    COVID-19 Impact

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    N/A
    False
    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
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    Timeline
    06 November 2020 (start date)
    05 November 2025 (date of completion)
    Entity
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    Ongoing
    No
    SDGs
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