Unilever beats supply chain sustainability targets

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Unilever says it is exceeding the targets of its Sustainable Living programme, which takes responsibility for the firm’s impact across the supply chain, after the first year.

100 per cent of the electricity Unilever buys in Europe is from renewable resources, and it will meet its target of using 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil by the end of this year, three years ahead of schedule.

It has set itself a new goal to buy all its palm oil from traceable sources by 2020.  To this aim it is in discussions with the Indonesian government to invest over 100 million euros in a processing plant for palm oil derivatives in Sumatra.

[asset_ref id=”1575″] Pier Luigi Sigismondi

Pier Luigi Sigismondi, chief supply chain officer said: “This is a hugely complex task that requires us to work collaboratively with full engagement from governments, industry players and also NGOs.”

The global Unilever Sustainable Living Plan aims to reduce the environmental impact of its entire product range by 50 per cent, source 100 per cent of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, and assist a billion people to improve their wellbeing and general health.

Sigismondi said: “I have had two principle focus areas over the last year.  One is the sustainable sourcing of our big agricultural commodity crops, and the second one is the efficiency in which our network of 250 factories around the world operates.”

In December 2011, the company opened a factory in Durban producing brands like Knorr, Robertson’s, Knorrox, Aromat and Rajah. It sends zero waste to landfill, and has minimised carbon emissions by using energy efficiently, with controlled zoned lighting, innovative insulation methods, and super-efficient motors to drive mixers and air compressors. 

Unilever also says the site is water independent and doesn’t extract any water from the municipal water system.  Rain falling on the 22 000 square metre roof is channeled into a 1.5 million litre tank, treated and added to recycled water. The application of smart water efficiency technology enables the recovery of 70 per cent of all water used in production phases.

Unilver chief executive Paul Polman, said: “We need a new sustainable model of capitalism.  One where business sees itself as part of society, not separate from society, and where the focus is on the long term not on the quarterly earnings… We have to see ourselves as part of the solution.

“We are making sustainability a key part of our growth, it is our vision, and more than that, it’s the heart of our strategy, and more than that, it is our business model.”


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