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Single servings at low prices: how Unilever’s sachets became a scourge

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Five years ago, Unilever announced a “radical recycling” process aimed at tackling a huge waste scourge it helped to create: billions of single-use sachets that litter south-east Asia’s landfills, pollute its waterways and wash up on its beaches.The “sachet economy” of single servings at low prices, targeting poorer consumers, began across much of the developing world in the 1990s.

Sold at shops and stalls across south-east Asia and Africa, these brightly coloured palm-sized packets contain everything from shampoo to coffee.

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