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12 ways we made a difference in 2017


From innovative tech and measures to cut recycling waste to empowering women entrepreneurs – here are 12 brilliant ways we’ve made an impact in 2017

Children playing on a swing

As 2017 comes to an end we look back at the changes we’ve made. Some are local, some are global, some changed the lives of a community and some will make a sustainable difference to the resources of our planet and the environment. Read on to find out more.

1. We committed to 100% recyclable plastic packaging by 2025

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, just 14% of the plastic packaging used globally makes its way to recycling plants, while 40% ends up in landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems. This year we set ourselves a commitment to ensure that all of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and called on the FMCG industry to do the same.

Find out more about our commitment

2. We got more transparent about what’s in our products

We created an online platform that provides people with information beyond what’s given on labels, such as our approach to developing safe products, explanations of ingredient types and answers to common questions. All key to earning consumer trust.

Find out more about what's in our Home Care and Beauty & Personal Care products

3. We put more power into women's empowerment

As well as a chance to harness social change, women’s empowerment also makes good economic sense. Here’s how three of our brands – Dove, Sunlight and Radiant – are helping women mean business.

Find out more about women's empowerment

4. We accelerated our efforts to #unstereotype

As a leading advertiser, we made a stand to #unstereotype the way the men and women are portrayed in marketing and called on the industry to do the same.

Find out more about why advertisers must unstereotype

Unstereotype Alliance flag
Our entire industry must be willing to overhaul the way we market, recruit, develop and lead. Aline Santos, EVP, Global Marketing and Head of Diversity and Inclusion

5. We created tech that saves water, time and effort

Washing laundry by hand takes a huge amount of time and water. Sunlight’s SmartFoam, a unique technology, washes away foam in up to half the rinses compared to current products.

Find out more about SmartFoam

6. We shared a breakthrough recycling technology

We came up with a radical recycling process that could address the billions of plastic sachets produced by a wide range of industries, including our own. And after eight years of investment and development, we decided to share it with competitors.

Find out more about CreaSolv®

CreaSolv® is a registered trademark of CreaCycle GmbH

7. We had palm oil success in Indonesia

Working with specialist partners, we helped 63 smallholder farmers – 19 of whom are women – gain Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification. This made them the first independent oil palm farmer group in the entire Indonesian province of North Sumatra to achieve accreditation.

Find out more about supporting independent palm oil farmers

Feature image - Palm oil
To achieve our vision of transforming the market to make sustainable palm oil the norm, smallholder inclusivity is a must. Tiur Rumondang, Indonesia Country Director, RSPO

8. We committed to 100% electric vehicles by 2030

We were the first FMCG organisation to join the Climate Group’s EV100 global initiative. Its aim is to bring together forward-looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and making electric transport the ‘new normal’ by 2030.

Find out more about our commitment

9. We joined a trucking industry revolution

We began using Digital Freight Matching which matches companies that need to transport goods with small trucking providers with spare capacity. The result is more agile and efficient deliveries in a way that is better for the environment and enhances livelihoods too.

Find out more about how Unilever is part of the revolution

Worker in factory
At the end of 2016, female employees represented 11% of the total Saudi Arabia Business Unit and 1% in the factory. Now, the factory gender diversity has jumped from 0% to 8%, for blue-collar workers. We intend to take it to 25% by 2020. Hesham AbdulWahab, HR Director, Saudi Arabia

10. We made a huge leap for gender diversity

At our factory in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the first group of local women – 11 machine operators and one supervisor – have started working on the production line. This is important for Unilever and a progressive step for the country.

Find out more about diversity in our Saudi factory

11. We recognised an inspiring young entrepreneur

Sabrina Natasha Habib beat more than 1,300 entrants to be crowned winner of the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards 2017. The low-cost daycare network she co-founded employs and empowers Kenyan women, and provides safe, stimulating childcare for less than a $1 a day.

Find out more about Kidogo

Feature image - Young Entrepreneurs
I want to give every child the chance to have the same start in life that I had – one that is safe and loving, where they are healthy and learning, and I’m proud Kidogo is doing that. Unilever Young Entrepreneur 2017, Sabrina Natasha Habib, Co-founder, Kidogo

12. We published our progress on human rights

For Human Rights Day, we launched a progress report on our ambition to embed human rights into our operations globally. This report addresses our salient human rights issues, and provides an update on how we see our approach developing in the future.

Find out more about our progress

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