About half of Unilever’s growth last year came from its sustainable living brands, which grew 30 percent faster than the rest of the company’s business, according to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan annual progress report.
The company defines sustainable living brands as those that “integrate sustainability into both their purpose and products” such as improving health, wellbeing or nutrition, reducing environmental impacts or using sustainably sourced ingredients. These include Unilever’s five biggest brands – Knorr, Dove, Dirt is Good, Lipton and Hellmann’s.
Unilever says its sustainable living brands’ 2015 growth outpaced these brands’ growth in 2014.
“There is no trade-off between business and sustainability, it is creating real value for Unilever,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman in a statement.
Unilever says it is on track to meet the majority of the 50-plus targets in its Sustainable Living Plan, the company’s blueprint for sustainable business. One of the goals is by 2020 to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of Unilever’s products.
While Unilever last year reduced its manufacturing CO2 emissions from energy 39 percent per metric ton of production compared to 2008 levels, the company says greenhouse gas emissions of its products across their lifecycle increase by about 6 percent, compared to 2010.
Water associated with consumer use of Unilever products decreased about 1 percent in 2015, compared to 2010. Unilever also reduced its manufacturing water use by 27 percent per metric ton of production, compared to 2008.
Waste associated with the disposal of the company’s products dropped by 29 percent last year, compared to 2010. In manufacturing, Unilever reduced its waste by 97 percent per metric ton of production, compared to 2008. And as of February, more than 600 Unilever sites globally achieved zero non-hazardous waste to landfill. This effort has contributed $227 million in cost-benefits to the company.
Unilever says the consumer use phase of its value chain is a “constant challenge” to meeting its 2020 goals, and says reducing the environmental impact associated with consumers’ use of its products will require “wider systems change.” To this end, Unilever says it will increase its efforts to design products that are less carbon and water intensive, and work with partners to help consumers understand how they can reduce their environmental footprint.
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