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12 ways we made a difference in 2018


From tackling plastics to social entrepreneurship, vaccines to beauty – our business is a force for good around the world. Here are 12 ways we made an impact in 2018.

YEA group

1. Dove was officially recognised for its no-animal testing commitment

Dove, our largest Beauty & Personal Care brand, became officially cruelty-free. In October it was recognised for its commitment to not conduct tests on animals by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). And we announced our support for Be Cruelty-Free – a campaign run by Humane Society International for a worldwide ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Find out more about our commitment.

2. We explored new ways of tackling plastic waste

In the Netherlands we worked with start-up Ioniqa to break down PET waste and remove colour and impurities. PET – polyethylene terephthalate in full – is a type of plastic used in packaging. Our aim is to turn it back into pure PET plastic ready to be reused – work that is ongoing.

And in Indonesia, our pilot plant is using innovative new technology to recover polyethylene from single-use plastic sachets – widely used in emerging markets – to produce high-quality polymers for new sachets. It’s all part of our commitment to ensure that all our plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

3. Our first Omo/Persil product launched using recycled plastic bottles

According to the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the Pacific Ocean contains more plastic than plankton. As part of our strategy to tackle the problem of plastic waste and move to a circular economy, we launched Omo EcoActive detergent in bottles made from 25% recycled plastic, all of which is sourced in Australia – a small but significant first step.

Omo Eco-Active and Lynsey

4. We helped create an sustainability action plan for chefs

The Chef’s Manifesto is an eight-point action plan, created for chefs by chefs – including our own teams from Unilever Food Solutions – to support sustainable food production, protect biodiversity and reduce waste. In June 2018, we took part in the launch of the Manifesto, which connects with UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 to achieve zero hunger around the world. Explore what the Manifesto means to chefs and consumers – including the role of plant-based proteins.

5. We tackled deforestation on two major new fronts

As the next step in our work to increase traceability in the palm oil supply chain, we helped evolve a mapping platform that uses data from satellite imaging technology to pinpoint exactly where companies are operating. This essentially means that any supplier or plantation that flouts the rules – and causes deforestation – will no longer be able to hide. We also embarked on a multi-partner project to sustainably certify medium-sized palm oil growers and farmers in Sabah, Malaysia. Part of the initiative will protect two ecological corridors that are natural habitats for orangutans and elephants – both critically endangered.

6. We brought eight young social entrepreneurs into the family

A business that provides sterile birthing kits to pregnant women in Nigeria and a scheme that uses mobile technology to create dignified income opportunities for waste pickers in India... just two of the inspiring winners of our 2018 Young Entrepreneur Awards (YEA). All winners get funding, coaching and a place on a residential accelerator programme run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, followed by a year of mentoring. Read about their social enterprises.

Mothers kit

7. We partnered with a charity to tackle child mortality

Together with vaccine alliance Gavi, we launched a scheme in Uttar Pradesh state to improve handwashing practices and immunisation rates. The initiative will reach over 40,000 households in two pilot districts and help reduce mortality among the under-fives. In December we announced a further financial commitment to help expand the work. Find out how the scheme works and read about the progress that Gavi is making.

8. We pledged further support for social enterprises through TRANSFORM

We moved to the next phase of our TRANSFORM efforts with a pledge of £40 million. TRANSFORM is our partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development, providing funding and business support to social enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Working with local partners, the latest projects aim to bring health and personal care products to Rwandan women, reach low-income rural consumers with our Pureit water purifier in India and provide community wash centres in Bangladesh.

9. Our Sir Kensington’s condiments brand became a B Corporation

In September, our US condiments company Sir Kensington’s became a B Corporation. It joins our ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s in a community of more than 2,500 businesses which are legally accountable to rigorous standards of social and environmental performance. Since its launch, the company has consistently increased its positive impact on society and contributes 1% of its revenue to non-profits and social enterprises that use food to create economic opportunities. Find out what the founders had to say.

Vegan Mayo display

10. We helped refugees use their talents

Our ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s supported UK social enterprise TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network) to launch the Ice Academy – a programme for refugees looking to start a business. And Unilever Turkey ran a reverse mentoring programme connecting young, talented Syrian refugees with senior leaders to exchange ideas – providing refugees with career guidance and our business with cross-cultural insights.

11. Our fresh food brand launched in New York

Our new US Growing Roots brand – a range of healthy plant-based snacks – gives 50% of its profits to help support urban farms in New York. The brand was created by our US Foods & Refreshment team in the belief that everyone should have access to affordable, nutritious food and followed our involvement in an initiative, also called Growing Roots, to provide fresh organic produce to local residents.

12. We took our planet-focused beauty brand to Europe

We launched Beauty & Personal Care brand Love Beauty and Planet in Europe. Its ‘small acts of love for the planet’ include recyclable bottles and scents infused with ethically sourced extracts. The range is also free from silicones and parabens, and nothing has been tested on animals. Visit the Love Beauty and Planet website to discover more.

Beauty and planet
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