The Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant plans to source 75 per cent of the material used for paper and board packaging from sustainably managed forests or recycled material by 2015, a figure which is projected to reach 100 per cent by 2020.
“…It is important that we promote sustainable forestry practices and help combat deforestation and climate change through the responsible sourcing of these materials,” commented Marc Engel, chief procurement officer at Unilever.
“We are committed to working in partnership with all our suppliers to progressively increase the proportion of paper and board packaging which comes from recycled materials, or sustainably managed forests, in order to achieve this ambitious target,” he added.
Logos to appear on packaging
Material certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), as well as other national schemes supported by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is to be accepted.
These two logos will appear on product packaging across the brand portfolio in order to increase consumer awareness of the use of certified material and logo recognition, the company said.
Preference given to FSC certified material
Unilever said it would prioritise FSC certified material when sourcing virgin material as it recognises this scheme as the most comprehensive globally. However, as current supplies are not available in sufficient quantities, certain other certification schemes will be accepted.
Although the goal to source 100 per cent sustainably sourced paper and board packaging was described as ‘ambitious’, the company said it believes the target to be attainable as the certified forest area continues to grow globally.
All suppliers are required to conduct self-assessments, which will be audited on a regular basis by third-party auditors, and report on progress through an internet-enabled tool.
Reducing environmental impact while growing business
Earlier this year, Unilever CEO Paul Polman revealed plans to expand the business while reducing the company’s environmental impact. Key to achieving these objectives is persuading consumers to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle through the product purchases they make, he said.
Unilever has also made efforts to sustainably source ingredients, and has played a significant part in the sourcing of sustainable palm oil for both the food and personal care industries.
Polman co-founded the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) backin 2004, in association with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), aimed at persuading industries to switch to the sustainable sourcing of palm oil.