Unilever report maps how sustainability has contributed to its growth



Unilever, the third-largest consumer goods company in the world, has published its latest sustainability report, in which its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint are highlighted.

The multinational company, which was named as top corporate sustainability leader by GlobeScan and SustainAbility last year, has stressed its commitment to improve its sustainability performance on a number of occasions.

In its second annual Sustainable Living Plan Progress Report, the firm explained that “eco-efficiencies in Unilever factories from reducing energy, water, materials and waste have enabled the company to take over €300m (£255m) out of the system since 2008.”

Unilever has set itself a number targets for 2020. It plans to improve the wellbeing of more than a billion people; reduce the environmental footprint of its products by half; and source all the agricultural raw materials from sustainable suppliers.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever said, “Sustainability is contributing to our virtuous circle of growth. The more our products meet social needs and help people live sustainably, the more popular our brands become and the more we grow.

And the more efficient we are at managing resources such as energy and raw materials, the more we lower our costs and reduce the risks to our business and the more we are able to invest in sustainable innovation and brands.”

The company has also begun to require its new managers to attend a week-long sustainability marketing course, in order to improve their knowledge of the subject.

Unilever was strongly criticised by Greenpeace in 2008 over its palm oil suppliers, which were linked to wild deforestation in Indonesia.

The company claimed it would switch to sustainable sources but this move wasn’t made until 2012, when Unilever declared it would have achieved a target of 100% sustainable palm oil by the end of the year.

Further reading:

Unilever scoops second successive sustainability trophy

Seven UK firms make it onto World’s Most Ethical Companies list

Firms recognised for sustainability leadership by prestigious award

The Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility 2013


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