Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan has received a lot of attention and inspection since it was launched in 2010. On April 30th the company was awarded, for three years in a row, the #1 score by Globescan – SustainAbility ‘Sustainable Leaders 2013’ survey.
Change was in the air with one of the world’s largest multinationals owning the strings on its social, environmental and economic footprint. But how would it accomplish its ambitious goals? What collaborations would it take? What out-of-the-box strategies did they have up their sleeve? And was it truly going to be an integrated value-based approach or a marketing effort?
Two years later, here’s how the company stands on its three overarching goals:
1. Help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being: The company has reached 224 million people with programs to reduce diarrheal disease through handwashing with soap, provide safe drinking water, promote oral health and improve young people’s self-esteem. Lifebuoy soap reached 71 million people in 16 countries in 2012 – five times as many people as in 2010.
2. Source 100% of agricultural raw materials sustainably: Unilever now buys over a third (36%) of its agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources, with particular progress in palm oil, sugar, cocoa, vegetables and sunflower oil. It has also now helped to train 450,000 tea farmers in sustainable practices, of whom over 300,000 have achieved Rainforest Alliance certification.
3. Halve the environmental footprint of its products across the value chain: Unilever is making good progress in areas it can control. Between 2008-2012, greenhouse gas emissions from energy in manufacturing were cut by nearly a third and manufacturing waste has halved. Over half of Unilever’s 252 manufacturing sites around the world now send zero non-hazardous waste to landfill, and the company has set itself a new target of extending this to all its factories by 2015.
However, its own manufacturing impacts account for only a small part of the total environmental footprint of Unilever’s products in the total value chain – just 4% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint for example. The majority of Unilever’s product footprint is in the sourcing of raw materials (25% of its GHG footprint) and in the way consumers cook, clean and wash with the products (68% of its GHG footprint).
In Conversation with the Sustainability Chief
And one of the company’s biggest challenges – as CSRwire’s Editorial Director Aman Singh covered in an intensive conversation with Marketing Chief Keith Weed on Talkback – remains how to encourage consumers to use Unilever’s products more sustainably at home, i.e., how can the company shift consumption levels and consumer habits to align with its sustainability goals?
This and more will be on the dossier as we converse with Unilever’s Chief Sustainability Officer Gail Klintworth. Join CSRwire’s Aman Singh and Triple Pundit’s Nick Aster and Jennifer Boynton in conversation with Klintworth on Twitter.
When: May 17, 2013, 9am-10am ET
Among the agenda:
- The Sustainable Living Plan two years later
- Toughest emerging challenges
- How is Unilever’s work in Africa and Asia on handwashing and sanitation helping grow the business while addressing crucial social issues?
- Building momentum for change within the organization: How is Unilever mainstreaming the activities that drive the Sustainable Living Plan, so that it can honestly claim this is its new business model?
- Business-to-business collaboration: Is momentum building?
- Business-NGO collaboration: How are traditional partnerships evolving as the dynamics of the challenges we face become clearer and harder to reach?
- Business-Consumer Relationship: How is the company integrating its consumers in the Sustainable Living Plan? What have been the roadblocks? How does it plan to move forward?
And here’s what you need to do:
Register by dropping a note to CSRwire with your Twitter handle and any questions you have for the sustainability chief, and send out the following tweet:
Looking forward to a convo w/ @Unilever’s #Sustainability Chief, @CSRwire + @triplepundit on the #SustLiving Plan 05/17.