Company Profile: UnileverWe Mean Business coalition
Unilever is a British-Dutch consumer goods company co-headquartered in London and Rotterdam, employing over 150,000 people globally with annual revenues of €51 billion (US$57.35 billion) in 2018.
The company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of beauty & personal care, home care, and foods & refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2.5 billion consumers a day. Unilever has around 400 brands including Dove, Knorr, Dirt Is Good, Rexona, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, Lux, Magnum, Axe, Sunsilk and Surf.
Since 2010 Unilever has been taking action through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) to help more than a billion people improve their health and well-being, halve its environmental footprint and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as the business grows. Unilever has already made significant progress and continues to expand its ambition – most recently committing to ensure 100% of plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
The USLP creates value by driving growth and trust, eliminating costs and reducing risks. In 2018, the company’s Sustainable Living Brands grew 69% faster than the rest of the business, compared to 46% in 2017.
As part of the USLP:
- Unilever is committed to be carbon positive by 2030.
- Unilever has an approved science-based target to reduce direct and indirect (Scope 1 and 2) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 100% by 2030, from a 2015 base year. The company is also committed to reducing GHG emissions from the life-cycle of its products 50% per consumer use by 2030, from a 2010 base year.
- Unilever is committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 with RE100.
- Unilever is committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles with EV100 and several other initiatives.
- Unilever’s direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) emissions declined 8% from 2017 to 2018, though total emissions including value chain emissions (Scope 3) rose 3%.
- Unilever achieved a 52% reduction in CO2 from energy per tonne of production in 2018, since 2008.
- The company’s total GHG footprint for 2018 was around 61 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2e).
- Unilever achieved a 38% improvement in CO2 efficiency from transport in kilogramme per tonne of products sold (weight) in (2018, compared to their 2010 baseline.
- By the end of 2018, Unilever had reduced the energy used in factories by 28% per tonne of production since 2008.
- Unilever has achieved 100% renewable electricity across five continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, ahead of the company’s global 2020 target.
- In 2018, 36.7% of Unilever’s total energy use in manufacturing operations was generated from renewable resources compared to 15.8% in 2008.
- 67% of grid electricity used in Unilever’s manufacturing is generated from renewable resources.
- Unilever’s personal care factory in Dubai, which opened in 2017, uses solar energy generated on-site to provide 14% of its electricity.
- Unilever is currently conducting alternative fuel trials around the world for its trucks.
- Unilever is working with suppliers in the US to explore using electric trucks to transport products.
- Unilever has trialled liquefied natural gas, which produces 11% less CO2 and 95% less particulate matter, than diesel.
- In Sweden, Unilever successfully trialled the use of hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO100), a renewable diesel which is made from waste fats and vegetable oils. HVO100 behaves like conventional fossil fuel diesel and no modifications are needed to vehicle engine fuel systems for it to be used. The odourless fuel can cut CO2 emissions by up to 90%, carbon monoxide by over 20% and hydrocarbons by 30%.
- In the US, India and Turkey, Unilever is using compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative to diesel.
Cost savings through decarbonisation
- Unilever’s eco efficiency has saved the company over £600 million in energy costs since 2008.
Decoupling growth from decarbonisation
- Unilever’s turnover has increased at a higher rate than GHG emissions have grown, which is an indication of decoupling.
- The GHG emissions of products is on average around 47.3g CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per consumer use. Since 2010, GHG impact per consumer use has increased by around 6%.
- Analysis shows that manufacturing and distribution represent about 5% of Unilever’s total GHG footprint, while consumer use accounts for over 60%. The largest contribution to the GHG footprint are those products where consumers need heated water, such as showering, washing hair and laundry.
- Unilever uses its Sustainable Living brands to broadcast a range of sustainability messages. These brands, including Dove, Knorr, Omo/Persil, Rexona/Sure, Lipton, Hellmann’s and Wall’s ice cream, are growing 69% faster than the rest of the business and delivering 75% of the company’s growth.
- Unilever teamed up with Walmart to announce forest sustainability initiatives at the Global Climate Action Summit. This supports work in Sabah, Malaysia which is pushing to certify 100% of the state’s palm oil production to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification by 2025. According to WWF, this will help to reduce 17 million metric tonnes of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
- The company also delivered the Ben & Jerry’s Save our Swirled campaign which aimed to help consumers to understand how climate change is affecting the product and to help fight it.
- In 2018, Unilever was recognised as sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and as the top ranked company in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders survey, for the eighth-consecutive year.
- Sustainable sourcing – Goal to source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020. Currently at 56%.
- Deforestation – Goal of zero net deforestation by 2020 associated with four key commodities: palm, soy, paper and board, and beef. Unilever is the world’s largest single buyer of palm oil – purchasing 3% of global production each year.
- Packaging – 98% of purchased paper and board packaging comes from sustainable sources (i.e. certified, recycled and recovered materials).
- Water – 44% reduction in water abstracted per tonne of production, that’s 22.5 million fewer m3 of water abstracted in 2018 than in 2008.
- Smallholder engagement – Aim to engage with at least 500,000 smallholder farmers in supply network to help them improve their agricultural practices, enabling them to become more competitive.
- Opportunities for women in supply chain – 2020 aim: to empower 5 million women by advancing opportunities for women in operations; promoting safety; providing up-skilling; and expanding opportunities in value chain. So far, 1.8 million women supported.
- EasyDose – launched in 2018, Seventh Generation’s ultra-concentrated liquid laundry detergent helps people reduce their GHG emissions through enabling energy savings. Consumers can lower their carbon footprint by choosing the EasyDose bottle over a standard 100oz bottle.
- Natural refrigerant freezers – pioneered in 2004 the use of HCs freezers that use natural hydrocarbon refrigerants. By the end of 2018, the number of units purchased containing natural refrigerants reached 2.9 million.
- Clean cold engines – used to deliver ice cream from factories to customers. Developed by the Dearman Engine Company, the patented Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) expands liquid nitrogen to produce clean power and cold air while cutting carbon and particulate emissions to zero.
- Compressed deodorants – for Sure, Dove and Vaseline brands. They offer people the same deodorant protection but with 50% less gas and 25% less packaging, cutting the carbon footprint per can by approximately 25%.
- Dry shampoos – compared to washing hair with shampoo in heated water, using dry shampoo reduces GHG emissions by approximately 85%. In 2018, Unilever sold dry shampoos under nine brands, including Dove, TRESemmé, Suave, TIGI, Sunsilk and VO5.
- Unilever supports the advocacy work of We Mean Business, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, BSR, B Team, Ceres, The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, CDP and The Climate Group.
- The company is a key member of United Nations Global Compact (UNGC)’s Caring for Climate Campaign – and implemented the UNGC’s Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing.
- CEO Alan Jope is member of World Economic Forum (WEF)’s Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, which advocates ambitious action on climate change. The group meets annually in Davos.
- Unilever is a member of Powering Past Coal Alliance, which is committed to an accelerated phase-out of coal as a fuel source in the energy mix. Unilever was the first company to join the coalition.