Pier Luigi Sigismondi, chief supply chain officer of Unilever, says that if he can achieve zero waste in his 241 factories, any company can.
James Murray, of businessGreen, writes that under Sigismondi’s watch, all of its global factories send zero waste to landfills.
In the article Sigismondi explained his position.
“In developed economies there is no excuse any more not to do this. If a company is not doing this, you start to think it is simply because they don't care," Sigismondi said. "You need to work with the supply chain globally," he explains. "There will be some regions where it increases costs initially, but if you look at it in its entirety, globally going zero waste saves money. We saved €200m, but in some countries where you need new infrastructure it can be more expensive at first."
In contrast, in countries like the UK where there is a mature recycling sector and a fast-expanding re-use and waste-to-energy sector the financial case for going zero waste is increasingly unanswerable. "Savings come from reducing the amount of waste, you quickly identify significant efficiencies," Sigismondi explains. "Also, using fewer suppliers led to cost reductions. Every company charges you to collect waste and in the UK we had 40 companies doing that for us. We moved to one and that led to a saving."
However, if going zero waste in developed countries is supported by a compelling business case, Sigismondi is similarly adamant that the absence of recycling infrastructure in emerging economies should not be used as an excuse for inaction.
"Don't buy the excuse that it can't be done in countries where there is poor infrastructure - we have gone zero waste in Ivory Coast, in India," he says. "We worked with a lot of family-driven businesses. We asked to work with them and help deliver the infrastructure to ensure our materials could be recycled or re-used."
Read about Unilever’s Zero Waste efforts.