Environmental and commercial rewards: Unilever case study

In 2015, multinational consumer goods company Unilever set a target to be carbon positive in its operations by 2030. As well as working to source 100 per cent of its energy from renewables, the company seeks to generate more renewable energy than it consumes – making the surplus available to the markets and communities in which it operates around the world.

Unilever has long been recognised for its environmental leadership. The company knows that the increasing likeliness of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts poses a threat to its supply chain and operations, and that by becoming carbon positive, it can reduce risk while achieving lower operational costs, greater resilience in its energy supply, and a closer relationship with its communities and consumers.

Unilever recognises that achieving 100 per cent renewable energy depends in part on the broader changes taking place in energy markets worldwide. That is why it is helping to drive positive change through its membership of RE100 – a collaborative initiative of the world’s most influential companies committed to 100 per cent renewable power.

In May 2015, Unilever reached a major milestone when its manufacturing network achieved an annual saving of one million tonnes of CO2 compared to 2008. The company reduced CO2 from energy by 39 per cent per tonne of production since 2008, resulting in cost savings of around €330 million.

Unilever’s Partner to Win programme is one example of how the company is lowering CO2 emissions through innovation. The company works with selected key suppliers to bring leading-edge products to the marketplace, such as climate-friendly ice cream freezers that use energy-efficient, hydrocarbon refrigerants, and compressed deodorants that require less packaging and extraction of raw materials. Unilever is sharing its revolutionary technology with competing manufacturers in a bid to help the whole deodorant industry cut its aerosol footprint by 25 per cent.