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Our environmental management system

Our environmental management system provides a framework for continual environmental improvement in our manufacturing sites. It helps us achieve the ambitious environmental targets in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

About our management system

As well as local legislation, all of our manufacturing and office sites companies must comply with the Unilever SHE Framework Standards for occupational safety and health and environmental care (SHE), and our Consumer Safety Policy.

Under our Environmental Care Framework Standard, all Unilever operations must establish a formal environmental management system (EMS), based on the ISO 14001 management systems standard. 36% of our sites are certified solely through ISO 14001 and 33% are certified via other third parties, and 31% internally.

This diagram shows the elements of our EMS from policy, planning and implementation to monitoring and review.

  • Environment
  • Planning
  • Implementation &
  • Checking
  • Management
  • Environment Policy
  • Environmental
    strategy & policy
  • Code of Business Principles
  • Roles & responsibilities
  • Planning
  • Environmental
    management system
    standards & guidance
  • Environmental aspects
  • Site-level
    objectives & targets
  • Implementation & Operation
  • Lifecycle assessment
  • Training
  • Good environmental
    practice transfer
  • Total productive maintenance (TPM)
  • Checking
  • Supplier assurance
  • Auditing
  • Positive assurance
  • Management Review
  • Environmental
    performance reporting
  • Benchmarking
  • Review of performance
    data against targets

Environmental policy

Unilever’s policy commitments with regards to the environment are encapsulated within Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (Greenhouse Gases, Water Use, Waste and Packaging and Sustainable Sourcing pillars).

Our Code of Business Principles also contains a specific principle on the environment: “Unilever is committed to making continuous improvements in the management of our environmental impact and to the longer-term goal of developing a sustainable business. Unilever will work in partnership with others to promote environmental care, increase understanding of environmental issues and disseminate good practice.”

The Code of Business Principles ensures our conduct is in compliance with laws and regulations, protects our brands and reputation, and prevents harm to people or the environment.

Environmental standards

Our businesses must also comply with more detailed standards and guidance documents. Our standards cover areas such as third-party manufacturing, SHE management systems’ auditing, environmental performance reporting and the notification and investigation of SHE incidents.

Detailed guidance documents are in place for areas such as environmental aspects evaluation, incident investigation and audit protocols to assess compliance with our SHE Framework Standards.

Assurance process

All our operating units conduct an annual review of business risks and compliance with corporate policies such as the Unilever SHE Framework Standards and Consumer Safety Policy. They also conduct a continual self-assessment of their operating controls.

The results of these processes are reported to the Corporate Risk Committee each year via a Positive Assurance letter.

This assurance process is based on the principle that managers are accountable for all aspects of corporate behaviour and performance in their units.

Our environmental indicators for manufacturing directly contribute to the achievement of the nine commitments that make up the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and we consider them crucial for our business, so they will always be assured.

Internal and external auditing

Regular environmental audits help our sites to achieve continuous improvement. We use a mixture of internal and external audits.

All manufacturing sites not certified to ISO 14001 undergo an environmental audit at least once every three years under our Environmental Care Framework Standard. Audits are carried out by trained Unilever employees who are not employed at the site being audited. Our World Class Manufacturing programme also includes an audit of environmental performance.

Sites certified to ISO 14001 are audited annually by the relevant certifying body. As part of our annual environmental performance reporting assurance process, our independent external auditors visit 9 manufacturing sites each year. They review each site’s processes for environmental and occupational safety data collection, collation and validation.

Our purchase of certified renewable electricity is also subject to external audit annually.

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