Long term sustainability programme of Unilever

Posted on January 25, 2011 by


The consumer goods leader, Unilever has recently published its long term sustainability plan. This sustainability programme aims to reduce the carbon, water and waste footprint of its products in half over the next 10 years. This is a part of their 10 year plan of doubling the sales and halving the environmental impact.

A significant aspect of this prograame is that it covers not just the group’s greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water use – but also those of its suppliers and consumers, from agricultural growers to the packaging and waste water produced by it’s consumers. Given that a significant impact of Unilever’s products happens in the use-phase (called as the scope-3 emission in the WRI’s GHG protocol), the cascading effect this move is expected to have is significant.

The measures that are expected to be taken range from reducing truck mileage to producing washing powders that work at lower temperatures and coming up with new products to cut the amount of hot water used in baths and showers. The company though does not have a exact plan of executing the same.

Other targets include

• Sustainable sourcing of 100% of agricultural raw materials by 2015. This includes 100% sustainable palm oil. Unilever currently buys 3% of the world’s annual supply of palm oil.

• Changing the hygiene habits of 1bn people in Asia, Africa and Latin America to help reduce diarrhoea – the word’s second biggest cause of infant mortality.

The new sustainability initiative being planned are not entirely new territory for the company. Unilever is a sector leader of the Dow Jones Sustainabiity indices for more than a decade. This plan comes as a follow-on to of an array of new sustainability pledges from larger rival Procter & Gamble. The targets announced by P&G’s include: powering its plants with 100% renewable electricity, using 100% renewable or recycled materials in all products and packaging, sending zero waste to landfill, maximising the conservation of resources and delivering effluent water quality that is as good or better than water used.

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Posted in: Sustainability