Amsterdam, Netherlands – Consumer goods giant Unilever is selling 1700 highly-polluting plastic sachets every single second, fuelling the global plastic pollution crisis and dumping huge amounts of waste on countries in the Global South, according to new figures released today by Greenpeace International

The report – UNCOVERED: Unilever’s complicity in the plastics crisis and its power to solve it – reveals shocking new data and analysis which lifts the lid on Unilever’s role in the plastic pollution crisis. The report shows that Unilever is on track to sell 53 billion sachets in 2023[1], despite a senior figure in the company describing the packaging as “evil because you cannot recycle it”.[2]

“Unilever really are pouring fuel on the fire of the plastic pollution crisis”, said Nina Schrank, Head of Plastics at Greenpeace UK. “Their brands like Dove are famous for telling the world they’re forces for good. But they’re pumping out a staggering amount of plastic waste. It’s poisoning our planet, you can’t claim to be a ‘purposeful’ company whilst bearing responsibility for such huge pollution. Unilever has to change.” 

Sachets – small throwaway plastic packets of consumer products – have increasingly been marketed to countries in the Global South by large corporations like Unilever. But selling vast quantities of these sachets, which are near impossible to collect and recycle, is resulting in a mountain of plastic pollution. This has devastated local neighbourhoods and waterways where sachets are clogging drains and aggravating issues such as flooding.

An estimated 6.4 billion sachets were produced by Unilever signature brand Dove alone in 2022, making up over 10% of Unilever’s total sachets sales.[3] A Senior figure at Dove has claimed “we are passionately committed to being one of the brands making the biggest impact against plastic waste.”[4] Yet new field investigations by Greenpeace South East Asia and Greenpeace UK reveal shocking images of Dove’s sachet waste polluting beaches and waterways in the Philippines and Indonesia.

The report also looks at Unilever’s slow progress towards meeting its own plastics targets and its faltering efforts at switching from single-use plastic to reusable solutions. Despite pledging to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025, Greenpeace analysis reveals that Unilever looks set to overshoot this target by nearly a decade to 2034.[6]

And whilst claiming to explore “how to bring refill and reuse solutions to consumers around the world”, Greenpeace analysis suggests that at the current pace, it would take until beyond the year 3000 for 100% of Unilever products to go reusable.[7]

Greenpeace is calling on Unilever to phase-out single-use plastic from its operations and transition to reuse in the next 10 years, starting with the worst offenders: plastic sachets. Greenpeace is also calling on the company to advocate for this same level of ambition at the ongoing UN Global Plastics Treaty negotiations and to back a treaty which caps and phases down plastic production by at least 75% by 2040.

Marian Ledesma, campaigner at Greenpeace Philippines said:

“Each one of the many Dove sachets we found polluting beaches and waterways should be a badge of shame for Dove and Unilever. They can’t continue to flood countries like the Philippines with waste they know can be devastating. They’ve produced sachets for decades, but have never shown accountability for the pollution they’ve caused. Each sachet represents the enormous health risks, environmental degradation, social injustices and climate impacts caused by plastic production and the plastic life cycle.

“If Unilever want to be seen as a leader, they should stop being part of the problem. They have to show they’re serious and commit to phasing out single use plastic, starting with sachets. And as treaty talks continue they must turn their influence on the world stage towards helping push for this level of ambition to sit at the heart of a strong Global Plastics Treaty.”



[1] Figure supplied to Greenpeace International by Future Market Insights and featured in the report “UNCOVERED: Unilever’s complicity in the plastics crisis and its power to solve it”

[2] Unilever President of Nutrition Hanneke Faber described multilayer plastic as “evil because you cannot recycle it” at an investor event in 2019 (27:11 minutes) Unilever Investor Event 2019 – Hanneke Faber

[3] Figure produced for Greenpeace International by Future Market Insights and featured in the report “UNCOVERED:  Unilever’s complicity in the plastics crisis and its power to solve it”

[4] Quotation from Marcela Melero, Dove Global Skin Cleansing Vice President, featured at Care for the planet: our plastic mission | Dove

[6] In its 2022 annual report, Unilever reported its virgin plastic use was down 13% relative to 2019.  If that 13% reduction is evenly spread over the three years 2020-2022 for a reduction of 4.3% per year it will take until 2034 for Unilever’s virgin plastic use to be less than 50% of the 2019 figure.

[7] Just 0.1% of Unilever’s plastic packaging is reusable according to Ellen McArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment report 2022. This figure increased to 0.2% in the 2023 report. If the company continued increasing its share of reusable packaging by 0.1% per year, it would be the new millennium before it fully switched its plastic packaging over to reuse.


Greenpeace UK press office – +44 20 7865 8255, [email protected],

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), [email protected]

Follow @greenpeacepress on Twitter for our latest international press releases

Full report: Uncovered: Unilever’s complicity in the plastics crisis and its power to solve it.

Dove Plastic Waste Images can be accessed from the Greenpeace Media Library.