Greenpeace protesters climbed Unilever’s headquarters in London to protest plastic pollution on the eve of the company’s 2023 profit announcement.
Campaign groups put up a 13m-wide banner on Wednesday morning at the entrance to a building near Blackfriars Bridge with the message: “Warning for profits: plastic-tainted money”.
Two demonstrators also sat atop the building’s wall and waved black flags with an inverted Dove logo that read “Real Harm.” The move was to raise awareness of the pollution that Unilever-owned beauty brands say is causing them.
Greenpeace also said local activists had set up a “pollution warning zone” around the entrance. The protest came ahead of Unilever’s release of its full-year 2023 results on Thursday.
This coincided with a new report from the No Plastic Campaign group revealing that the company has emerged as one of the top three worst plastic polluters in the world.
Last year, the company was named the largest seller of multilayer plastic sachets used to package products such as Dove shampoo, and is expected to sell 53 billion bags by 2023, a report said.
Activists say the sachets are nearly impossible to recycle and can clog local waste systems and waterways, causing flooding.
In response, Greenpeace accused Unilever brands of greenwashing, including Dove, which is “committed to being one of the brands with the greatest impact on plastic waste.”
Greenpeace protesters are calling on Unilever to stop selling sachets and phase out single-use plastic within 10 years.
It also calls on the company to use its influence to advocate for these goals in the UN Global Plastics Treaty negotiations through its role as co-chair of a coalition of businesses.
Nina Schrank, head of plastics at Greenpeace UK, said: “Unilever’s profits are tied up in plastic pollution.
“Brands like Dove may put on a pretty face in public and bring healthy bank balances, but the truth is that they are the ones that will match the billions of dollars in profits that Unilever will announce tomorrow. That’s just billions of pieces of plastic being sent out into the world.
“From devastating floods to toxic fire smoke, it’s communities far from our London headquarters, such as the Philippines and Indonesia, who pay the price for plastic pollution.
“That is why we are here issuing our own profit warning to Unilever: Profiting from plastic pollution is a dead end and they must change.”
“They must stop selling plastic bags now, commit to phasing out single-use plastics within 10 years, and insist on this same level of ambition in the UN Global Plastics Treaty negotiations.”
The PA news agency has contacted Unilever for comment.
Rebecca Speare-Cole is a PA sustainability reporter.