Unilever’s target is to source 100 per cent of its raw materials sustainably by 2020, as laid out in its Plan, and the announcement that it is at 36 per cent at present represents a significant milestone.
The interim milestone set in 2010 was for 30 per cent at this stage, so the company is ahead of the game and was made against a backdrop of the company reporting annual sales of €51 billion in 2012; marking the potential for Unilever to double its business whilst reducing its environmental footprint.
“Sustainable sourcing is not only about managing business risks, it also presents an opportunity for growth, allowing brands to stand out in the marketplace," says Marc Engel, Chief Procurement Officer.
One of the raw materials that have been a sustainable sourcing success for the company is palm oil, which is used in about 70 per cent of cosmetic and personal care products and has become an issue due to global demand fuelling unsustainable growth of the palm industry over the past decade.
As such, all Unilever’s palm oil is now covered by GreenPalm certificates, and the company is working towards the new commitment to 100 per cent certified sustainable palm oil which is traceable back to the plantations on which it is grown.
In 2012 Unilever joined key players in industry and government for the China Sustainable Palm Oil Supply Chain Forum, for talks on promoting faster uptake in China, the world's second-largest consumer of palm oil.
Sustainable Living Plan
Unilever revealed its Sustainable Living Plan back in 2010, with aims to halve the company’s environmental impact, but double the size of the business by 2020.
The Sustainable Living Plan sets out over 50 social, economic and environmental targets and will see Unilever, whose global brands include Dove, Lynx and Vaseline, halve the greenhouse gas emissions, water and waste used not just by the company in its direct operations, but also by its suppliers and consumers.