Sustainable living brands delivering business growth
Unilever's drive to make sustainable living commonplace by reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact is boosting our growth, cost efficiency and resilience, the four-year progress report on our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan shows.
Doing well by doing good
Four years after we launched our ambitious Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, our latest progress report shows that we are seeing benefits to people, the environment and our business from our drive to make sustainable living commonplace.
Brands which have led the way on sustainability, including Dove, Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s and Comfort, are also leading Unilever's growth, the report confirms, while reducing waste, water use in manufacturing, and CO2 from energy use has created cost efficiencies.
And we now source more than 55% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably, which reduces risk to our supply chain while benefiting producers and the environment.
"Consumers are increasingly demanding responsible business and responsible brands," said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO.
"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.”
Progress against our targets
"Consumers are increasingly demanding responsible business and responsible brands - our experience is that sustainable living brands are delivering stronger, faster and sustainable growth."
The report, 'Scaling for impact: Unilever Sustainable Living Plan Summary of Progress 2014', shows that we are on track to meet most of the goals we set in 2010 and have started to decouple our environmental footprint from our underlying sales growth.
While the consumer element of reducing the environmental impact of our products remains heavily dependent on wider market shifts, we have achieved our target of zero non-hazardous waste to landfill across our factory network, and made significant reductions in the water we use in manufacturing and the CO2 emissions from energy.
We've also enhanced the livelihoods of more than a million people, including 800,000 smallholders, and 238,000 women given access to training, support, and skills.
We have reached 397 million people so far in our ambition to help improve the health and well-being of over one billion people by 2020.
Less waste, less risk, more innovation
The report highlights many ways in which sustainability has driven growth in our business since 2010, supporting our belief that Unilever can succeed while helping create a brighter future in which people live well, and within the means of the planet.
For example, reducing waste has created substantial cost efficiencies for Unilever. In 2014 alone, we saved over €200 million of costs through innovative thinking, efficient use of materials, and better logistics - for example, compacting our washing powder, light-weighting our packaging, and better transport.
And by integrating sustainability into product development, sourcing and manufacture, we have opened up opportunities for innovation - such as our revolutionary compressed deodorant sprays, which deliver the same performance as standard aerosols but use 25% less aluminium.