Greenhouse gases

This work supports the following UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Climate Action
  • Life on Land
  • Partnership For The Goals

Our greenhouse gas footprint

The most meaningful way to measure the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of our business is to look across the whole lifecycle of our products. Accurate measurement and transparent reporting of our GHG footprint help us adapt our strategy, set ambitious targets and assess our progress towards our 2030 halving goal.

Woman putting laundry in washing machine

Why do we measure our GHG footprint?

What is the real GHG impact of a business like ours? For many years, businesses thought about this question in terms of their own factories, where energy use is easiest to measure and where they had most control.

The direct emissions from our factories are a vital focus for us, and we measure them carefully – but they amount to less than 5% of the total GHG footprint of our products. A much more meaningful picture of our product impact comes from measuring it across the value chain: from raw materials (primary packaging, secondary packaging and ingredients) to manufacturing, transport, storage at retail and at home, and crucially, consumer use and disposal, which account for over 60% of our total GHG footprint.

Climate change is a principal risk factor for both our business and society at large. For example, temperature increases and extreme weather events (storms, floods, droughts) can drastically raise the cost of raw materials and packaging, which in turn can affect the affordability of our products. Mitigating climate change starts by reducing our own environmental impact, which is why we measure our GHG footprint and track our progress towards halving our GHG impact by 2030.

How do we calculate our GHG footprint?

We have been calculating our GHG footprint across the value chain since 2010, measuring the emissions across the lifecycle of a large group of products that are representative of our 12 product categories (Beverage, Deodorant, Dressings, Hair Care, Ice Cream, Home & Hygiene, Fabric Solutions, Fabric Sensations, Oral Care, Savoury, Skin Care and Skin Cleansing).

Our footprint focuses on 14 key countries (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, and the US), which represent around 60–70% of our total global sales volumes. Within the 14 key countries, the footprint accounts for at least 80% of sales volumes.

We calculate our GHG impact annually, both at an absolute level and ‘per consumer use’, which is the GHG impact of our consumers making a single cup of tea or doing a load of laundry. These measurements enable us to see where we are making improvements and where we still have work to do – for example, by innovating new, more energy-efficient products, or by improving our packaging.

Our 2018 GHG footprint

Our total GHG footprint is around 61 million tonnes CO2e. The GHG emissions of our products are on average around 47.3g CO2e per consumer use. Since 2010, our GHG impact per consumer use has increased by around 6%.*∞ Our turnover has increased at a higher rate than our GHG emissions have grown, which is an indication of decoupling. As we make progress towards our 2030 GHG reduction commitment, we expect the extent of decoupling to accelerate.

Our 2018 footprint shows reductions in GHG emissions from the increased use of renewable energy in our factories, sustainable innovation (e.g. a greater than 95% reduction of phosphates from our laundry powders), and portfolio changes (e.g. the disposal of frozen foods). However, these GHG reductions have been negated by the acquisition of skin cleansing and hair care brands which sell products with above-average greenhouse gas impact per consumer use. These products are being used by consumers while taking heated showers and baths.

Our analysis shows that manufacturing and distribution represent about 5% of our total GHG footprint, while consumer use accounts for over 60%. The product categories that make the largest contribution to our GHG footprint are those where consumers need heated water to use our products, for example showering, washing hair and laundry.

Greenhouses gases

Measured 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018

For more information on reducing GHG emissions in manufacturing, explore how we’re becoming carbon positive in our operations.


* Our environmental targets are expressed against a baseline of 2010 and on a 'per consumer use' basis. This means a single use, portion or serving of a product.

The spreads business was sold in mid-2018 and is excluded from the performance measure (including the baseline) to ensure alignment with the existing business structure.

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