Unilever expands sustainable living ambition

06-05-2014 : Unilever has announced a third year of good progress on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever has announced a third year of good progress on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, and an intention to expand further its sustainable living ambition to bring about broader change on a global scale.

Commenting on progress, Unilever CEO, Paul Polman said: “In the three years since we launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan we have learned that sustainability drives business growth and a much deeper connection with our employees and consumers. In 2013, we’ve seen good progress, particularly on targets within our direct control. Our Plan is helping us to save money, reduce risk and drive innovation, and brands that have done the most to embrace sustainable living, like Dove, Lifebuoy, Pureit and Domestos, are enjoying some of our fastest growth.”

In addressing the 100 senior sustainability experts including academics, NGOs, government and business who attended the ‘Making Progress, Driving Change’ event in London today, Polman explained that the company will continue to focus its scale, influence, expertise, and resources on making a fundamental change to entire systems, not just incremental improvements. This will involve stepping up plans to tackle several major global sustainability challenges, including:

  • helping to combat climate change by working to eliminate deforestation, which accounts for up to 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions

  • improving food security by championing sustainable agriculture, and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who produce 80% of the food in Asia and Sub Saharan Africa

  • improving health and well-being by helping more than a billion people gain access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation and good hygiene habits

In the area of social compliance, Unilever also confirmed that the Sustainable Living Plan has been expanded with a more substantive Enhancing Livelihoods programme focusing on:

  • fairness in the workplace

  • opportunities for women

  • developing inclusive business

These three areas of focus are fundamental to the way Unilever aspires to do business. Announcing the expanded plan, Polman, said, “We’re making good progress in reshaping our business for sustainable, equitable growth. We have always recognised the bigger role that businesses need to play, and now is the moment for Unilever to step up and expand efforts in key areas, driving transformational change where we know we can make the biggest impact. This way we will leverage our scale and work collaboratively in partnership with others to reach a tipping point in areas that will make a significant difference.”

Speaking about the progress made in India, Sanjiv Mehta, MD & CEO, Hindustan Unilever Limited said, “Our Sustainable Living Plan is what makes our business model different from others because sustainability is integral to how we do business. The success of brands like Lifebuoy clearly demonstrates that there is no contradiction between sustainability and profitable growth. We are happy with the progress made on our Plan in 2013. We have further built on our plan with the launch of ‘Prabhat’, which contributes to the development of local communities around our manufacturing sites."

A detailed report on the progress made against the targets set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and Unilever’s approach to transformational change is available online at: www.hul.co.in/sustainable-living/.

About Hindustan Unilever Limited

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India's largest Fast Moving Consumer Goods company touching the lives of two out of three Indians. HUL works to create a better future every day. We help people feel good, look good and get more out of life with brands and services that are good for them and good for others.

Media Contacts:

Email: mediacentre.hul@unilever.com

Telephone: Prasad Pradhan - 022 39832429, R Ram - 022 39832413


Editors notes:

In November 2010, Unilever set out the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, committing to a ten year journey towards sustainable growth. What makes the Plan different is that it applies right across the value chain. The Plan takes responsibility not just for Unilever’s own direct operations but for suppliers, distributors and for how consumers use its brands.

The Plan has three big goals to reach by 2020:

  • Help more than 1 billion people improve their health and well-being

  • Halve the environmental footprint of our products

  • Source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people

By the end of 2013, Unilever reports that:

  • 48% of agricultural raw materials are now from sustainable sources, up from 14% in 2010.

  • It helped 303 million people improve their health and wellbeing through Lifebuoy, Signal, Pureit and Dove brands, up from 52 million in 2010.

  • The majority of Unilever foods and beverages meet nationally recognised nutritional standards and 31% of foods and beverages meet the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines.

  • It helped and trained over 570,000 smallholder farmers and increased the number of Shakti women micro-entrepreneurs in India that it employs from 48,000 in 2012 to 65,000 in 2013.

In its own factories, Unilever reports excellent progress in 2013:

  • Reducing CO2 emissions from energy by 32% per tonne of production since 2008, the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.

  • Reducing water abstracted by 29% per tonne of production, or the equivalent of 2 litres of water for every person on the planet.

  • Cutting waste by two thirds per tonne of production, or 97,000 fewer tonnes of waste disposed of in 2013 than in 2008.

  • Achieving zero non hazardous waste to landfill in three quarters of Unilever sites (170), up from 35 sites in 2010.

Brands that have done most to embrace sustainable living are enjoying some of our fastest growth:

  • Dove, Lifebuoy, Domestos and Pureit have all grown double digit on average over the past 3 years.

Costs savings:

  • Avoided costs of €350million since 2008 in reducing raw materials and implementing eco-efficiency measures in factories on energy, water and waste.

  • Implemented new packaging technique which injects gas into plastic bottles creating bubbles in pack walls, cutting plastic by up to 15%. This is now available on Dove Body Wash with plans for further rollout across the portfolio. This technique has the potential to save 27,000 tonnes plastic once fully rolled out.

Innovation and consumer behaviour change from our brands:

  • Sure, Dove, Vaseline compressed deodorants UK launch: around 25% CO2 savings per can, and 40% of the female deodorants we sell in UK are now compressed.

  • Lifebuoy Colour Changing hand wash: helps encourage children to wash their hands with soap for long enough by changing colour after 10 seconds - the time it takes to be protected from germs.

  • Becel and Flora pro.activ ‘It Takes a Village’ challenge: developed to help people with raised cholesterol move to a healthy diet/lifestyle. The challenge has been launched in villages across 6 countries, where 500 people have taken part and 89% have successfully lowered their cholesterol.

Highlights of Progress in India in 2013:

  • 58 million people reached through Lifebuoy Handwashing Programme since 2010.
  • 57.5 million people gained access to safe drinking water from Pureit globally by end of 2013.
  • CO2 emissions per tonne of production in India reduced by 27%, water use by 37% and waste by 84% compared to 2008.
  • In 2013, total 35 sites out of 38 sites became zero non-hazardous waste to landfills; an addition of five more sites compared to previous year.
  • Out of 38 HUL factories, 33 became zero-discharge in 2013.
  • A total of 86 tea estates in Assam, Darjeeling and Tamil Nadu were certified 'Sustainable Estates' by the Rainforest Alliance™.
  • 80% of tomatoes used in Kissan Ketchup were from sustainable sources.
  • Shakti network strengthened taking the total number of Shakti Entrepreneurs (Shakti Ammas) to over 65,000 complemented by over 50,000 Shaktimaans

Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF): Water for public good

HUF is a Section 25 not-for-profit company that supports national priorities for socio-economic development, through its ‘Water for Public Good’ programme’. HUF’s projects span several villages in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Projects are executed in partnership with NGOs, government agencies, state governments and members of the local community.

We have created a collective water potential of more than 24 billion litres during 2013, which along with other actions has enhanced agricultural production by over 3,500 tonnes. We expect to achieve a cumulative water conservation potential of a hundred billion litres by March 2016 through the various projects that we have undertaken in India.


Prabhat’ (Hindi for ‘Dawn’) is a rural community development programme and aims to engage with and contribute to the development of local communities around our manufacturing sites in India. Over the years, our factories have played a major role in driving and shaping the socio-economic landscape around each of our units. These efforts have evoked a sense of pride in our employees and their families.

Prabhat brings various programs running at different units under one umbrella to contribute in a more holistic manner and with scale to the local community. Prabhat focuses on health and hygiene, livelihoods and water conservation initiatives which are fully aligned to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan priorities. Prabhat has been launched in nine of our manufacturing locations across India – Haridwar, Pondicherry, Silvassa, Khamgaon, Goa, Nasik, Orai, Chhindwara and Etah.

The Health and Hygiene programme is led by our brands like Lifebuoy, Domex and Pepsodent. The Water Conservation initiative is led by Hindustan Unilever Foundation, a wholly owned subsidiary of HUL. The Livelihood programme aims to empower youth by providing them with employable skills thereby enhancing their livelihoods. HUL is collaborating with NGOs and State Government to implement this project.

Hindustan Unilever Limited

Hindustan Unilever Limited,
Unilever House,
B. D. Sawant Marg,
Chakala, Andheri (E),
Mumbai - 400 099.

T: +91 22 39832429 (Prasad Pradhan)


Explore more on these topics:

Back to top


We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.


Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters or find contacts around the world.

Contacting us