The money will drive the company towards its goal of halving its environmental impact by 2020, by funding a number of new factories and increasing the efficiency of existing factories by reducing waste, water usage and gas emissions.
Green bonds gaining popularity
Unilever claims its bond is the first of its kind for the fast moving consumer goods sector, and the move is timely, taking advantage of the increasing popularity of such bonds, the market for which reportedly grew fivefold last year, according to the Financial Times. Unilever's is the first in the sterling market.
The issuing of green bonds to date has largely been limited to banks, including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, but other industries are now starting to get involved.
Increasing the profile of a company’s sustainability is an increasingly win-win move for cosmetics brands, as increased efficiency not only saves money; it also taps into consumer focus on environmental responsibility.
The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) has noted that beauty consumers are keen to see evidence of sustainability responsibility, with over 80% of consumer respondents to their ‘biodiversity barometer’ indicating that they would like to receive more information on how companies source ingredients.
Unilever is a key consumer goods player making strides to up its environmental game; with the green bond, the company continues towards its 2020 sustainability targets.
The company has pledged to increase its positive social impact, with the intention to source all agricultural raw materials sustainably by the end of the decade.
“Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact,” Unilever has stated.
The green bond launch comes hot on the heels of other moves by the company towards these targets: it recently partnered up with the University of Cambridge to further the university’s Sustainability Leadership programme (CPSL) with the launch of its first seminar in Asia.