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Unilever Pushes ‘Rethink Recycling’ Campaign to the Bathroom

Words by Leon Kaye

Last year, Unilever launched the “Rinse, Recycle, Reimagine” campaign in an attempt to inspire Americans to recycle all those shampoo and body wash containers used in the bathroom. The company even gave out heaps of prizes. But apparently many of us are just too lazy to carry those empty bottles from the bathroom to the kitchen recycling bin, even though such plastic containers are made from the same materials that store our kitchen cleaning products.

Now, Unilever says it will fire up this awareness campaign yet again this spring. In a press release widely distributed across various media channels, Unilever’s U.S. operations are reminding us that only 14 percent of bathroom bottles are recycled, leaving 29 million tons of plastic in landfills annually. With that in mind, the company says it is encouraging consumers whose bathrooms are stocked with the likes of Tresemmé, Dove and Suave to recycled those bottles and reimagine what they could be.

Those who want to show how “green” they are with their ideas can vote for what they think this recycled plastic can become, and inserting the hashtag #RethinkRecycling, on Twitter. And, to be clear, you should tag @UnileverUSA in order to join in on the fun. Ideas of what could be made out of Unilever's recycled plastic include children's coats, school supplies and playground equipment.

This social media campaign, according to Unilever, is more than about engaging consumers to share their ideas about recycling, but in fact, serves to create more social impact. Visitors to Unilever’s site can learn which containers are recyclable in the first place, and the company says it wants to highlight what can become of recycled plastic, from building materials to kayaks. With this year's U.S. Presidential election in mind, the company is inviting consumers to learn more about recycled plastic and to vote for their ideas here.

Whether Unilever’s campaign does more than engage its alpha consumers and create more recycling aficionados remains to be seen; we can be assured that the other consumer packaged goods companies are watching to see if they should get on board with a similar agenda. Regardless of the outcome, such attempts to raise awareness certainly cannot hurt, as too much plastic ends up on the streets or in landfills instead of being reprocessed into other uses. Considering Unilever often highlights that they touch the world with 2 billion items a day, that is a lot of plastic that could be put to better use.

Image credit: Unilever

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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