Unilever accused of hypocrisy after promising to get rid of ‘evil’ plastic sachets – only to fight to keep using them
Unilever has been accused of hypocrisy after it promised to get rid of plastic sachets – only to then fight to keep using them.
The consumer goods giant has been a vocal opponent of the tiny plastic packets, with a senior executive once calling them ‘evil’.
They have been blamed for fuelling a global waste crisis, with the packets littering neighbourhoods and harming wildlife.
Broken pledge: Plastic sachets have been blamed for fuelling a global waste crisis, with the empty packets littering neighbourhoods, clogging waterways and harming wildlife
Chief executive Alan Jope said in 2020: ‘We have to get rid of them.
‘It’s pretty much impossible to mechanically recycle and so it’s got no real value.’
But a Reuters investigation found Unilever lobbied the Sri Lankan government to reconsider a proposed ban on the tiny packets. It also found that Unilever then tried to manoeuvre around it when it was imposed.
Sources also said Unilever lobbied against sachet bans in India and the Philippines that were then dropped.
Conservative MP Lee Anderson said: ‘This is another case of do as I say and not as I do.
‘These multinational faceless hypocrites need to put their money where their mouth is instead of falsely hiding on the moral high ground dictating to the rest of us on morality.
They should concentrate on things that affect real people, like making ice-cream people can actually afford.’
Unilever, which owns the Dove, Ben & Jerry’s and Hellmann’s brands, used the packets for products including shampoo and conditioner.
Sri Lanka tried to end the tide of plastic waste spoiling beaches and other nature areas.
Environmental group A Plastic Planet estimates 855billion sachets are sold every year.
But despite Sri Lanka’s ban on sachets sized 20ml or under, the report exposed how Unilever kept selling 6ml sachets there.
The country’s environment minister Anil Jasinghe told Reuters: ‘Unilever tried to deceive us.’
Unilever declined to comment on the lobbying but said it was ‘phasing out’ the sachets.