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Unilever Cuts 1 Million Metric Tons CO2

Unilever says it has reduced CO2 from its manufacturing and logistics operations by more than 1 million metric tons since 2008, saving the company more than €300 million ($394.8 million).

For manufacturing, this represents a reduction of 31.5 percent per metric ton of production, a company spokesperson tells Environmental Leader.

John Maguire, Unilever’s group manufacturing sustainability director, says the company’s primary focus is to cut overall energy by improving its “eco-efficiency,” reducing its environmental footprint while choosing ideas with the best financial payback.

Since 2008 Unilever’s eco-efficiency programs have avoided about €100 million ($131.6 million) in energy costs, €186 million ($244.78 million) in materials costs, €17 million ($22.37 million) in water costs and €10 million ($13.16 million) in waste disposal costs, Maguire says.

Unilever says it has grown sales by 26 percent over this same time period, from €40.5 billion ($53.3 billion) in 2008 to €51.3 billion ($67.51 billion) in 2012.

The 1 million metric tons CO2 reduction is a combination of 838,000 metric tons CO2 achieved from improvements in manufacturing activities and 211,000 metric tons CO2 reduction from making global logistics operations more efficient. Some examples from 2012 include:

  • Cost-efficient renewable energy from biomass boilers have reduced bio-waste and helped the company to reach its 40 percent renewable energy target. Unilever now has 30 biomass boilers globally supplying more than 7 percent of its renewable energy, with six more planned for this year in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
  • In Europe, using combined heat and power has helped to reduce CO2 by 50,000 metric tons and save €10 million ($13.16 million). In 2013, Unilever is planning to install CHP units in Mexico and South Africa.
  • Creating the UltraLogistik control tower in Katowice, Poland — which enables more efficient coordination of thousands of transport movements across road, rail, sea and air of Unilever products — has reduced CO2 and saved the company €50 million ($65.8 million) since 2008. As part of the UltraLogistik transport network Unilever is creating regional distribution hubs. Unilever says these will improve operational efficiency and reduce distance traveled by 175 million km in Europe alone. The company is now rolling out the UltraLogistik model globally.

Earlier this month, Unilever announced that more than one-third of all its agricultural raw materials are being sourced sustainably.

In January, Unilever announced that 133 of its manufacturing sites achieved zero waste to landfill by end 2012.

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