Unilever and Coca-Cola produce climate change brochure

Unilever and The Coco–Cola Company have jointly published a brochure to demonstrate the vital role consumer goods companies play in tackling climate change.

"Like us, they are trying to address greenhouse gas emissions"

On 11 December 2009 Unilever jointly published a brochure with The Coca-Cola Company at the Copenhagen Business Day (held in parallel with the UN Copenhagen Climate Change Conference) to demonstrate the vital role consumer goods companies play in tackling climate change.

The 30 page guide has been published for the benefit of managers throughout the consumer goods industry, aimed at encouraging businesses to take a big picture approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions rather than focusing on factory emissions alone.

'Moving Fast to a Cleaner Climate: A manager's guide – How consumer goods companies can tackle climate change' looks right across the value chain from the sourcing of raw materials to the way products are used by the consumer. It also covers how consumer goods companies must help and empower the consumer by changing their behaviour.

Low-carbon initiatives

"We wanted to work with The Coca-Cola Company because, like us, they are trying to address greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain, both upstream with raw materials and downstream with consumers," explains Karen Hamilton, VP, Vitality and Environment, who co-ordinated the project from Unilever’s side.

"The brochure highlights how they are trying to decouple packaging from fossil fuels and carbon in two ways: by encouraging consumers to recycle through a big communication campaign in the US, and through the launch of innovative technology – such as the Plantbottle, which contains up to 30% plant-based material and is 100% recyclable."

According to the brochure:

  • Five billion tonnes of carbon emissions are emitted by the consumer goods sector each year across the value chain

  • Companies’ earnings are estimated to drop 47% in the next decade if there is no response to environmental pressures

Reducing emissions

The brochure states that there are two effective ways to reduce emissions: Firstly taking action inside the company, changing the way a business operates, from sustainable sourcing to the choice of products it sells and the way those are marketed. Secondly, it highlights the importance of working with the wider industry, consumers and policy makers to achieve a big difference.

Importantly, it says everyone involved can reap benefits. The brochure cites the example of Unilever’s Small & Mighty concentrated laundry detergent, which has reduced transport-related costs and emissions, takes up a third less shelf space for retailers and cleans clothes at lower temperatures, reducing costs and energy-use for consumers.

Seven basic steps to tackling climate change are offered, demonstrating how these have worked at a practical level with examples of success from within Coca-Cola and Unilever.

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