Unilever signs deal to recycle plastics


From left: Unilever East Africa CEO Justin Apsey, Mr Green Africa CEO Keiran Smith and Environment Ministry official Mohammed Elmi during the unveiling of a waste management project in Nairobi on September 24, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Consumer goods manufacturer Unilever East Africa has signed a partnership with a Nairobi-based plant to recycle plastic containers and cut pollution.

Unilever has injected Sh30 million in Mr Green Africa in a pact that will see the plant’s collection centres rise from the current 25 to 100 across the country in two years.

Unilever reckons the venture will cut pollution and boost Kenya’s recycling business as part of its global plan to make the plastic it uses recyclable or reusable by 2025.

M Green Africa uses waste to manufacture products such as buckets and water tanks while Unilever’s products like Blue Band and Vaseline are packaged in plastics.

Manufacturing giants like Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and Coca-Cola are responding to growing public alarm over pollution as a younger generation, deemed to be more environmentally aware, emerges as the biggest spending group.

“It is a very important partnership for Unilever. We have made big commitments to take the lead in creating a bright environment for future Kenyans and our environment is a key part of that. Plastics have a big role to play, “Unilever CEO Justin Apsey said.

An army of people gathering plastic waste will be key to Unilever meeting its target of collecting and recycling a large share of its packaging materials.

The deal will increase the number of waste collectors currently working with Mr Green Africa from 1,700 to 4,000 in the next two years. The waste recycler currently pays Sh19 per kilo of plastics delivered from dump sites within the capital.

“Providing tools to divert waste from landfills… is a win for Unilever Kenya, a win for us and most of all, a win for the environment,” said Keiran Smith, CEO of Mr Green Africa.

The pact comes amid the government’s push to cut use of plastics.

Kenya banned production, selling and using plastic bags last August.

Mohammed Elmi, Cabinet Administrative Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the government will push for recycling of plastic packaging materials.