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Unilever saves 1 million tonnes of CO2 – and €244m


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Just three months after announcing the industry leading achievement of zero waste to landfill across its global factory network, Unilever has reached a new milestone of 1 million tonnes of CO2 savings since 2008 in its manufacturing network. Energy consumption has been reduced by 20% - the same energy used to run 40 factories or the equivalent in carbon of over 800,000 acres of forest in one year. This has also resulted in significant cost savings of €244m.

Carbon Proof Point

Savings in CO2 have been delivered by a global strategy, including circular economy approaches, for example:

  • In South Africa, a bi-product of the seed oil from Flora, Stork, Rama and Rondo is used as a fuel in the boilers to deliver energy back into the factory.
  • In the UK Marmite factory, 18,000 tonnes of solid Marmite waste is converted into methane via an anaerobic digester which is used to provide 30% of the factory’s thermal energy.

The announcement was made ahead of Climate Week Paris (18-22 May). Unilever has been assessing its greenhouse gas emissions since 1995. Reducing energy use not only benefits the environment, but has a clear business purpose as it helps to drive down costs and means Unilever is less exposed to changes in the energy price market, improving business resilience.

Unilever will continue to reduce its energy consumption, and will switch to renewable energy where cost effective. This has been a big move in Europe and North America where all of the electricity purchased by Unilever factories is from renewable sources. Across the globe, 28% of the energy used by Unilever factories comes from renewable sources, with 39% of electrical energy produced from this source.

Unilever has a target to reach 40% renewable energy by 2020 and will work towards 100% of renewable energy in the future. Unilever has also joined RE100 campaign to accelerate the scale-up of renewable power to create a healthier and more sustainable environment. The goal is for at least 100 of the world’s most influential businesses to join RE100 and commit to going 100% renewable for electricity.

Unilever is also helping other industries to reduce their carbon emissions. In Indonesia, sludge waste goes into another company’s cement as a material – this then contributes to CO2 reduction as the cement industry is the 6th biggest contributor to GHG emissions in the world.

Commenting, Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer, Pier Luigi Sigismondi said:

“We’re delighted to have hit this milestone in our CO2 reduction.

“Reducing our energy consumption not only cuts our greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent in carbon of 800,000 acres of forest each year – but also cuts our costs. Since 2008, we’ve saved over €244m by reducing our CO2 emissions.

“Across our supply chain we are increasingly turning to energy provided by wind, solar and biomass, converting heat from our manufacturing processes into power for our factories. We are on track to reach our target of 40% renewable energy by 2020.

“Climate change is having a huge impact on the environment and on business. Ahead of Climate Week in Paris, we are continuing to show that sustainability is a driver for growth, and the only long-term option for business in a volatile world.”

Notes to editors

Unilever has a clear track record of improving eco-efficiency performance in the areas of water, waste and CO2 from energy. In January 2015 the company announced it had achieved 100% zero waste to landfill and will be sharing the methodology for how this was achieved in the coming months.

About RE100

RE100 is a global initiative that celebrates and supports major companies committed to 100% renewable power across their operations. Its goal is that 100 of the world’s most influential businesses commit to 100% renewable power.

Led by The Climate Group, in partnership with CDP with the support of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), RE100 shares the compelling business case for renewable power, addresses barriers to wide-scale adoption, develops transparent reporting mechanisms, and identifies the necessary regulatory reforms.

By massively increasing private sector demand for renewable power, RE100 will accelerate the transformation of the global energy market, thus enabling the transition to a prosperous low carbon future.

The following companies have joined RE100 and made a public commitment to going 100% renewable: BT Group, Commerzbank, Elion Resources Group, Formula E, H&M, Infosys, IKEA, KPN, Mars, Nestlé, Philips, Reed Elsevier Group, J. Safra Sarasin Bank, SAP, SGS, Swiss Re, YOOX Group.

RE100 is an action of the We Mean Business coalition.

About The Climate Group

The Climate Group is an award-winning, international non-profit. Our goal is a prosperous, low carbon future. We believe this will be achieved through a ‘clean revolution’: the rapid scale-up of low carbon energy and technology. We work with corporate and government partners to develop climate finance mechanisms, business models which promote innovation, and supportive policy frameworks. We convene leaders, share hard evidence of successful low carbon growth, and pilot practical solutions which can be replicated worldwide.

Since 2009, The Climate Group has been the convenor of Climate Week NYC, an annual international platform for governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate on bold climate action and low carbon leadership. In September 2014, Climate Week NYC hosted 150 events as the collaborative space in support of the UN Climate Summit.

The Climate Group has offices in Greater China, North America, India and Europe.

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Follow us on Twitter @climategroup using #cleanrevolution and #RE100

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