Millions of deodorant sticks are thrown into the trash every year, representing a significant raw material source that often goes unrecycled. Unilever U.S., one of the country’s biggest consumer goods companies, is pioneering a new recycling program that will test whether used deodorant sticks can be profitably recycled.
Unilever, whose brands include Axe, Degree, Dove deodorants and Suave, is partnering with Earth911, Nextlife and Funding Factory to launch the program.
The project will enlist the help of students from 50 high schools and colleges who will collect deodorant sticks for the recycling test. The collection of the spent deodorant sticks will be facilitated by FundingFactory, a free fundraising-through-recycling program for for schools, nonprofits, and charities.
The products will then be sent to Nextlife, a leader in the manufacturing of sustainable plastic resins, who will process them into recycled polypropylene resin.
Items like deodorant tubes have previously posed a challenge because they are made from at least two plastic resin types. Finding a cost-effective way to recycle complex plastic packaging has the potential to save millions of used deodorant sticks from landfills.
“If the program is successful, we will be able to provide the recycling industry with information that shows multi-resin deo-sticks can be profitably recycled. National recycling of deodorant sticks will reduce the environmental footprint of our brands as well as our competitors,” said Michael Hughes, Unilever’s senior manager, in a press release.
The deodorant recycling program is part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan. Established in 2010, the plan sets forth specific goals to be accomplished by 2020. These include cutting in half the environmental footprint of its products and sustainably sourcing 100% of the company’s agricultural raw materials.
Learn more about efforts to reduce the environmental impact of some of the world’s most recognizable household product brands at the Unilever Sustainable Living website.