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Sunlight raises recycling awareness through packaging innovation

Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid, with its 120-year heritage as the original Unilever brand that launched the company into South Africa in 1891, is leading the consumer goods giant's sustainability ambitions. Over 5 years' worth of development work has culminated in the launch of Sunlight's new 100% recycled and recyclable bottle.


The innovation on the 750ml and 400ml bottles marks a key milestone for the household brand, and Unilever's ambition to reduce its overall environmental impact by half by 2030.

According to Plastics South Africa, in 2016 the country accumulated over 1.14 million tonnes of plastic waste and less than half of it was recycled. Although conversations around recycling and plastic waste management have increased in recent years, there remains a staggering amount of unrecycled plastic in our waste stream and plenty to be done.

With its substantial volume of products in the market, Unilever felt the duty to act. In 2010 the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was launched to accelerate efforts towards a more circular economy. In 2017, the company committed to ensuring that 100% of plastic packaging will be designed to be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2030.

By 2011, partnering with Extrupet, Serioplast and Petco (the PET Plastic Recycling Company) the Sunlight team began researching how to achieve their now 100% recycled 750ml and 400ml bottle packaging. Petco CEO Cheri Scholtz said, “The benefits of a project like this are substantial. They’re environmentally beneficial, they’re socially beneficial and of course, they economically beneficial.”

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#SunlightPlayYourPart challenge


Beyond reducing its own footprint, the dishwashing liquid brand wants to inspire and challenge consumers to play their part and adopt more sustainable habits by recycling and using more sustainability-focused brands.

On Global Recycling Day on Monday, the iconic view through the yellow frame at the V&A Waterfront was transformed into a plastic waste image of Table Mountain. With the usually breathtaking view blocked by plastic waste, the effect stopped locals and tourists in their tracks, forcing them to think twice about the impact of their behaviour on our natural wonders. The visual tactic acted as an awareness tool, while also driving a simple but important message: “Play your part. Recycle your Plastic.”


The brand now challenges the public to initiate change with a pledge. The #SunlightPlayYourPart challenge aims to steer behaviour towards the circular economy of recycling. Follow Sunlight on their social media platforms to see how you can pledge your commitment to recycling plastic.

Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid has also donated R10,000 to the Oasis Association, which uplifts those with learning disabilities by providing job opportunities and skills development at recycling centres across the country. The brand has promised to double its donation if 10,000 South Africans make the #SunlightPlayYourPart pledge.
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