Unilever sees sustainability supporting growth
Growing evidence that integrating sustainability into Unilever’s business is driving growth, cost efficiency and resilience for the future
Four years into its ambitious and wide-ranging Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever says it is making a growing and positive impact on its business in terms of growth, cost efficiency and resilience for the future. At a time when more and more companies are talking about ‘brands with purpose’, Unilever has put some definition and measurement behind what it calls ‘sustainable living brands’ – meaning brands that contribute to one or more of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) goals and have a sustainable living purpose.
Many of Unilever’s brands that have led the way on sustainable living, such as Dove, Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s and Comfort, are achieving above average growth, with high single and double digit sales over the past three years.
Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, said: “In a volatile world of growing social inequality, rising population, development challenges and climate change, the need for businesses to adapt is clear, as are the benefits and opportunities. This calls for a transformational approach across the whole value chain if we are to continue to grow. Consumers are recognising this too, increasingly demanding responsible business and responsible brands.
Our experience is that brands whose purpose and products respond to that demand – ‘sustainable living brands’ – are delivering stronger and faster growth. These brands accounted for half the company’s growth in 2014 and grew at twice the rate of the rest of the business.”
The business case also now extends to the investment community, which is becoming increasingly aware of the risks and opportunities of managing in a new economic ecosystem where the interdependencies are more complex and unpredictable. This is evidenced by the growing number of institutions moving capital into businesses that will help realise a low-carbon future. Governments too are responding to the forthcoming climate negotiations in Paris in December with robust national plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
On track towards achieving USLP goals
The Company confirmed that it is on track to meet most of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan goals, which it set in 2010. The consumer element of the reducing environmental impact goal remains more challenging, and heavily dependent on wider market shifts. But Unilever has started to decouple its environmental footprint from its underlying sales growth.
Within the Company’s supply chain, there is promising progress. More than 55% of Unilever’s agricultural raw materials are now sustainably sourced, reducing the risk to supply - more than half way to its 2020 target of 100%. It has achieved its target of zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across its factory network, and is making significant reductions in CO2 from energy and water in manufacturing, reducing them by 37% and 32% per tonne of production respectively since 2008.
Against the ambitious target to help improve the health and well-being of over 1 billion people by 2020, Unilever is nearly 40% of the way (397 million) to reaching it. The Company has also enhanced the livelihoods of over 1 million people so far, having helped and trained 800,000 smallholder farmers since 2010 and provided 238,000 women with access to training, support and skills.
Sustainable Living brands driving growth
‘Sustainable living brands’ now represent half of Unilever’s growth and are growing twice as fast as its other brands. A growing number of its leading brands have integrated sustainability into the contribution they make to the world - their purpose – and into their products’ ingredients and lifecycle. The ‘sustainable living brands’ are evidence of Unilever’s Purpose in action - making sustainable living commonplace.
Unilever is committed to working to bring about transformational change throughout the whole value chain and to developing further its portfolio of ‘sustainable living brands’ in a way that meets the needs of consumers. It will continue to systematically measure its brands’ sustainability performance, using the learnings from this to drive further progress.
About Unilever Sustainable Living Plan:
In November 2010, Unilever set out the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, committing to a ten year journey towards sustainable growth. Today, Unilever confirmed it is on track to meet most of the goals.
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 its products and de-couple environmental impact from growth
- Source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people
USLP India progress – Key highlights for 2014:
- We have reached out to a total of 63 million people through Lifebuoy Handwashing Programme since 2010.
- Pureit in-home water purifier has provided 65 billion litres of safe drinking water globally, by end of 2014.
- All children’s ice creams in India contain 110 kilocalories or fewer per portion.
- CO2 emission per tonne of production in India has reduced by 37%, water usage has reduced by 44% and total waste generation has reduced by 88% compared to 2008.
- We have created water conservation potential of nearly 100 billion litres through Hindustan Unilever Foundation partnerships.
- All our 38 manufacturing locations have become zero non-hazardous waste to landfills.
- A total of 111 tea estates in Assam, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu were certified as 'Sustainable Estates' in 2014, taking the total to 222 'Sustainable Estates'.
- A total of 85% of tomatoes used in Kissan Ketchup are from sustainable sources.
- Project Shakti network has expanded to include over 70,000 Shakti Entrepreneurs (Shakti Ammas) and 48,000 Shaktimans
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.
Hindustan Unilever Limited
B. D. Sawant Marg,
Chakala, Andheri (E),
Mumbai - 400 099.
Hindustan Unilever Limited,
B. D. Sawant Marg,
Chakala, Andheri (E),
Mumbai - 400 099.
T: +91 22 39832429 (Prasad Pradhan)