Sustainable Living

We’re building a business the world can be proud of

Ten years ago we set out on a journey to become the world’s most sustainable business.

To prove that growth doesn’t have to come at the expense of people and planet.

To show that business can be a force for good – through actions, not just words.

We've achieved many of our goals, but failed to reach others.

A decade on, we're sharing what we’ve learnt along the way.

And we’re putting that learning at the heart of a new, even more ambitious strategy.

Looking back on a pioneering decade

In 2010, we launched the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP).

The USLP changed the game. At a time when most businesses saw sustainability and business as separate, we saw that they were linked.

This wasn't a sustainability plan.

It was a plan for a successful, sustainable business.

We looked at every aspect of our value chain and framed our approach around big goals that we knew were at the heart of the global sustainable development agenda.

Climate action. Gender equality. The health and nutrition of billions of people. Respect for the environment. A fairer, more prosperous world.

Then we underpinned those goals with perhaps the most comprehensive range of sustainability targets that any business of our size had ever set.

We've seen the way our work has changed the world around us – empowering women, protecting forests, improving health and supporting sustainable farming.

And we've seen the benefits to our business.

But although we have accomplished a great deal, we still have work to do.

We didn't meet every one of our targets.

We haven't achieved all our goals.

At times, we've learnt some hard lessons.

How did we do?

After ten years of the USLP, we can see the impact we've made

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan sets out to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint, while increasing our positive social impact.

Our Plan has three big goals to achieve, underpinned by nine commitments and targets spanning our social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain. We will continue to work with others to focus on those areas where we can drive the biggest change and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We have three big goals

Improving Health
and well-being
for more than

1 billion

By 2020 we will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

UN Sustainability Development Plan

We are taking action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals


By 2020 we will help more than a billion people to improve their health and hygiene. This will help reduce the incidence of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea.

1.3 billion people reached by end 2019

  • Reduce diarrhoeal and respiratory disease through handwashing

  • Provide safe drinking water

  • Improve access to sanitation

  • Improve oral health

  • Improve self-esteem

  • Help improve skin healing

Find out more about health & hygiene

We will continually work to improve the taste and nutritional quality of all our products. The majority of our products meet, or are better than, benchmarks based on national nutritional recommendations. Our commitment goes further: by 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the Highest Nutritional Standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.

56% of our portfolio by volume met Highest Nutritional Standards in 2019

  • Reduce salt levels
Saturated fat:
  • Reduce saturated fat

  • Increase essential fatty acids

  • Reduce saturated fat in more products

    (Targets no longer measured or reported since the sale of our Spreads business in 2018.)

  • Remove trans fat
  • Reduce sugar
Reduce calories:
  • In children's ice cream
  • In more ice cream products
  • Provide healthy eating information

Find out more about improving nutrition

Reducing
environmental
impact by

half

By 2030 our goal is to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of our products as we grow our business.*

UN Sustainability Development Plan

We are taking action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Our products' lifecycle:

Halve the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of our products across the lifecycle by 2030.

Our greenhouse gas impact per consumer use has increased by around 2% since 2010*

Our manufacturing:

By 2020 CO2 emissions from energy from our factories will be at or below 2008 levels despite significantly higher volumes.

-65% reduction in CO2 from energy per tonne of production since 2008

Become carbon positive in manufacturing:
  • Source all energy renewably

  • Source grid electricity renewably

  • Eliminate coal from energy mix

  • Make surplus energy available to communities

Reduce GHG from washing clothes:
  • Reformulation
  • Reduce GHG from transport

  • Reduce GHG from refrigeration
  • Reduce energy consumption in our offices
  • Reduce employee travel
Find out more about greenhouse gases

Our products in use:

Halve the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020.+

Our water impact per consumer use has increased by around 1% since 2010*

Our manufacturing:

By 2020 CO2 emissions from energy from our factories will be at or below 2008 levels despite significantly higher volumes.

-47% reduction in water abstraction per tonne of production since 2008

Reduce water use in the laundry process:
  • Products that use less water

  • Reduce water use in agriculture

Find out more about water use

Our products:

Halve the waste associated with the disposal of our products by 2020.

Our waste impact per consumer use has reduced by around 32% since 2010*

Our manufacturing:

By 2020 total waste sent for disposal will be at or below 2008 levels despite significantly higher volumes.

-96% reduction in total waste per tonne of production since 2008

Reduce waste from manufacturing:
  • Zero non-hazardous waste to landfill
  • Reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging

  • Reduce packaging

Recycle packaging:
  • Increase recycling and recovery rates

  • Increase recycled content

  • Tackle sachet waste

  • Eliminate PVC

Reduce office waste:
  • Recycle, reuse, recover

  • Reduce paper consumption

  • Eliminate paper in processes

Find out more about waste & packaging

By 2020 we will source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably.

62% of agricultural raw materials sustainably sourced by end 2019

  • Sustainable palm oil

  • Paper and board

  • Soy beans and soy oil

  • Tea

  • Fruit

  • Vegetables

  • Cocoa

  • Sugar

  • Sunflower oil

  • Rapeseed oil

  • Dairy

  • Fairtrade Ben & Jerry’s

  • Cage-free eggs

  • Increase sustainable sourcing of office materials

Find out more about sustainable sourcing

Enhancing
Livelihoods
for

millions

By 2020 we will enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business.

UN Sustainability Development Plan

We are taking action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals


By 2020 we will advance human rights across our operations and extended supply chain.

70% of procurement spend through suppliers meeting our Responsible Sourcing Policy’s Mandatory Requirements


We continued to embed human rights, focusing on 8 salient issues in our Human Rights Report


Our Total Recordable Frequency Rate for safety reached 0.76 per million hours worked

  • Implement UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

  • Source 100% of procurement spend in line with our Responsible Sourcing Policy

  • Create framework for fair compensation

  • Improve employee health, nutrition and well-being

  • Reduce workplace injuries and accidents 

Find out more about fairness in the workplace

By 2020 we will empower 5 million women.

2.34m women enabled to access initiatives aiming to promote their safety, develop their skills or expand their opportunities

  • Build a gender-balanced organisation with a focus on management

  • Promote safety for women in communities where we operate

  • Enhance access to training and skills

  • Expand opportunities in our retail value chain

Find out more about opportunities for women

By 2020 we will have a positive impact on the lives of 5.5 million people.

793,000 smallholder farmers and 1.81m small-scale retailers enabled to access  initiatives aiming to improve  agricultural practices or increase incomes

  • Improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers

  • Improve incomes of small-scale retailers

Find out more about inclusive business
Key to our performance
  • Achieved

    This is the number of targets we have achieved

  • On-Plan

    This is the number of targets we are on track to achieve

  • Off-Plan

    This is the number of targets we are currently not on track

  • %

    Of target achieved

    This is the percentage of the target we are on track to achieve

* Our environmental targets are expressed on a ‘per consumer use’ basis. This means a single use, portion or serving of a product.

+ In seven water-scarce countries representing around half the world's population.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) assured. See Independent assurance & our metrics.

Following our Compass

But, as our USLP comes to end in 2020, where do we go next?

Further.

We're more certain than ever that the course we're on is the right one – for us, and for the world. And armed with the experience of our USLP, we are setting out to create a movement in which our suppliers, customers and consumers are all part of building a better future.

What does that business look like?

We believe it has to be purpose-led and future-fit – and that it has to drive superior performance.

To get there, we will follow our new Compass – a single sustainable business strategy based on three core beliefs:

Our purpose is to make Sustainable living commonplace

We look forward to sharing the journey with you.

We will use the best of business to build the world we all want to see. A business the world can be proud of.

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CONNECT WITH US

We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.

CONTACT US

Get in touch with Unilever PLC and specialist teams in our headquarters, or find contacts around the world.

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