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Partner with Purpose

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Welcome to the future of partnerships

Unilever’s Partner with Purpose (UPWP) programme, which launched in 2020, is taking purpose-led partnerships to a whole new level to fuel industry-leading innovations, protect and regenerate nature and make sustainable living commonplace.

UPWP is an evolution in the way we partner that allows us to continually respond to new and emerging consumer trends. We are getting even closer to our partners through this programme by encouraging more responsible and transparent innovation to deliver on our ambitious commitments and generate mutual growth together.

To celebrate our first full year of working together with our partners under our UPWP programme, we hosted the Unilever Partner with Purpose Connect and Awards Ceremony on 15th March 2022.

Check out the event highlights video.

Our growth ecosystem

We are building a new partner ecosystem to create opportunities for all. We welcome partners of all sizes - from small start-ups to global multinationals – to collaborate with us, either on a one-to-one basis, or as part of a multi-partner partnership. Whatever the dynamic, we expect all our partners to share our sense of purpose and willingness to drive mutual growth and competitiveness whilst being a force for good for people and the planet. Together, we can and must do both. Our UPWP programme is designed to deliver against Unilever’s three Compass beliefs: Brands with purpose grow, People with purpose thrive and Companies with purpose last.

Brands with purpose grow

We’re committed to innovating responsibly and transparently. Together with our partners, we create and deliver solutions to help us meet the ambitious sustainability commitments outlined in our Positive Beauty, Clean Future, and Force for Good divisional strategies.

For example, it’s thanks to our partnership with specialty chemicals company, Evonik, that our Chilean Home Care brand, Quix, was able to launch the world’s first household cleaning product containing a 100% renewable and biodegradable foaming ingredient, known as Rhamnolipid. Read more about our purpose-led collaboration.

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People with purpose thrive

We collaborate with transparency and trust. Using real-time data and collaborative platforms, we provide a transparent end to end partner experience that promotes a true partnership mindset. By working with partners who are aligned with our values, we can ensure the major commodities we rely on are produced sustainably for mainstream consumer markets. Similarly, achieving complete cost transparency helps us to ensure our competitive position in every market we operate in.

For example, our partnership with Viridor, a recycling, resource and waste management company in the UK, allows us to bring extra PCR capacity to the UK to meet our plastics goals. Together with our local resource management consultant, Nextek, the three of us worked to develop detectable black plastic packaging for Unilever’s TRESemmé and Lynx brands, allowing for previously undetectable black plastics to be picked-up by recycling plant scanners. The innovation means that around a further 2,500 tonnes of plastic bottles could now potentially be sorted and sent for recycling each year.

Companies with purpose last

We rely on our partners to promote speed and simplicity in how we work. Unilever’s segmented portfolio allows us to quickly adapt to new channel landscapes and customer needs, creating joint value with our partners.

We aim to support our partners’ growth potential by building capacity in emerging markets and some of the world’s fastest growing regions, looking for joint opportunities to drive efficiency of supply, invest in cutting-edge technology, leverage innovation and foster continuous development of new capabilities.

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Our people plans

Together with our partners, we’re supporting inclusive economic growth and promoting equality through our commitments to supplier diversity and the living wage.

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Our planet plans

We’re collaborating with our partners to halt climate change, by protecting and regenerating nature and becoming a net zero carbon supply chain.

Unilever Partner Promises programme

Partner Promise Climate logo

In August 2021, we launched our Partner Promises programme, an initiative designed to further align our suppliers to our Compass ambitions and encourage them to begin their own sustainability journeys so that, together, we can scale and accelerate our successes.

Through our first two promises - The Supplier Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Promise and the Living Wage/Living Income Promise - Unilever is inviting supply partners to demonstrate their shared values and commitment to addressing social inequality in our value chains by encouraging partners to commit to a set of actions that will tangibly promote equality and inclusion in their own value chains. Through our Climate Promise, we encourage suppliers to measure, reduce and report on emissions in their own value chains as we seek to achieve net-zero emissions across our value chain by 2039.

Unilever Partner with Purpose Awards

As part of the Unilever Partner with Purpose launch in December 2020, we launched the UPWP Awards.

Through our Compass strategy, we want to drive positive change, but we cannot achieve our Climate, Nature, and Social ambitions alone. In celebrating our partners, we acknowledge them as visionaries, innovators, and changemakers who are aligned with our purpose and goals.

2021

Outstanding Innovation Award

2021 Winner: Silgan Dispensing

Silgan Dispensing’s product innovation is a win from both an environmental and business perspective. This innovation took Unilever one step closer to realising one of our key business objectives: making all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable. The Silgan team developed a fully recyclable trigger for our Home Care sprays. Across Europe alone, this ground-breaking innovation will make 160 million bottles and triggers recyclable a year. The roll-out of this new component will enable 3,300 tons of plastic for recycling across Europe. Unilever is using these triggers right now in European Cif, Vim, Domestos, Lifebuoy and Lysoform sprays, with expansion outside of Europe planned for 2022.

Climate & Nature Impact Award

2021 Winner: The Archer-Daniels-Midland Company (ADM)

ADM has made tremendous progress in regenerating vital agricultural land. They have upskilled farmers across the US and measurably improved the quality of over 178,000 acres of land in just three years. We estimate to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a total of 500kg per acre - converting the average of soybean acre from +360kg of GHG emissions to -136 kg of GHG sequestration.

ADM’s dedication to reporting at farm level has improved the transparency of Unilever’s supply chain and has provided important insights to enhance our agricultural practices individual farm by individual farm. Unilever is now able to track the emissions of our products: we now estimate that one in every three bottles of Hellmann’s mayonnaise has net zero emissions at field level in the US. ADM is a brilliant example of a company making a direct and positive impact on our planet and to Unilever’s business.

Social Impact Award

2021 Winner: Sahyadri Farms

With Sahyadri Farms, Unilever is finding innovative ways to improve crop quality and output, thereby providing a path for achieving a living income, as well as working to improve rural communities’ prospects by investing to develop skills and practices that will safeguard not only livelihoods but also the planet. Sahyadri Farms is clearly demonstrating that together we can simultaneously deliver on our consumers’ needs and business objectives.

Supplier Excellence Award

2021 Winner: Menasha

Menasha has displayed an extraordinary effort in creating joint value by improving operational efficiencies and reducing complexity. They have demonstrated key capability and eagerness to enable Unilever to win in the channels of the future, today. With a laser focus on growth that benefits the top and bottom line, their keen insights and agile operating model has accelerated Unilever’s speed to market by over 20% in some of the most hotly contested cells. Menasha continues their inspiring community investments in young adults and those most at risk of economic exclusion. They are a shining example that purposeful business is also great business.

Agility & Resilience Award

2021 Winner: Axium Packaging

Axium Packaging is a diverse-owned business in North America, and throughout the pandemic, they succeeded in keeping all their facilities open and operating at full capacity. And, even with the unprecedented obstacles presented by COVID-19 in the past two years, they were able to open a new facility in Mexico in 2021. Axium Packaging enabled Unilever to respond quickly to changes in consumer demand and supported our first entrance into the hand sanitizer market in North America by producing over 45 million bottles to date, a successful demonstration of supply with unsurpassed speed, quality and service. They always ensure that service and quality are never at risk.

Start-up of the Year Award

2021 Winner: Scoutbee

Unilever first started working with Scoutbee during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, as we searched for alternate suppliers to keep business operations running. Their game-changing AI technology has given Unilever unprecedented visibility of the market and is helping us to improve our resilience. In addition, Unilever is leveraging their capability to land brilliant innovations to meet changing consumer needs such as vegan meat substitutes, better, gentler disinfectants, and sustainable, refillable, consumer packaging.

Partner of the Year Award

2021 Winner: Smollan

On multiple occasions and across several geographies, Smollan has demonstrated commitment to workforce safety, pivoting their business model in response to changing local situations and continued to deliver all important business continuity for our customers and consumers. Despite what was another year fraught with potential for setbacks and reprioritisation, Smollan has expanded their programmes designed to provide reliable, respectful employment to households most at need: now impacting over 7,000 households. Doubling down on their commitment to fair value distribution and recognising the benefits to communities and society, Smollan’s “Path to Purpose” strategy sees them engaging with their employees on the ground to understand the lived experience of being on the minimum wage and developing a roadmap for achieving a living wage. We are very proud of our partnership with Smollan and hope that our collective efforts inspire others to embrace purpose.

Growing together with integrity: RSPFirst

We want to work with partners who share our purpose and values. Our Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP) embodies our commitment to conduct business with integrity, openness and respect for universal human rights and sets out the standards we expect of all our partners.

Unilever’s Responsible Sourcing Policy sets out our 12 Fundamental Principles and defines the mandatory requirements that partners must achieve to do business with us.

The RSP also gives guidance and tips on how partners can progress towards industry-leading practices. We expect our partners to work with us and to make progress over time, moving from mandatory requirements towards good and best practices.

Agreeing to the terms of the RSP is a pre-requisite for any partner wanting to do business with us.

In June 2021, we launched our RSPFirst programme to ensure every single one of our suppliers is committed to the terms of the RSP. Any new supplier that has not formally agreed to the requirements of the RSP can not be onboarded into our systems. We have the same expectation for existing suppliers and, over the course of 2021, we will begin a process that prevents the issue of new purchase orders for suppliers not compliant with the requirements of the RSP, where no action has been taken to resolve the issue.

Any supplier that has not yet committed to the RSP, or is in any way unsure of their RSP status, is encouraged to get in touch with their Procurement contact quickly.

Find out more about the RSP principles, or download the policy in full (PDF 8.25 MB) .

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Becoming a Unilever supplier

Any individual, business, or organisation wanting to partner with us needs to go through our Unilever Supplier Qualification System (USQS).

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