Six years after launching its Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever’s efforts to deliver brands and products with purpose and sustainability at their core are finally paying off.
The company revealed yesterday in its Sustainable Living Report that its Sustainable Living brands delivered more than 60 percent of Unilever’s growth in 2016, up from 46 percent last year, and grew more than 50 percent faster than the rest of the business during the same period.
“There is no doubt that the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is making us more competitive by helping us to build our brands and spur innovation, strengthen our supply chain and reduce our risks, lower our costs and build trust in our business. It is helping Unilever to serve society and our many customers and in doing so, create value for shareholders.”
As part of the efforts to scale up and progress its commitments on sustainable living, Unilever commissioned consumer research to help gain a better understanding of some of the issues that are driving people’s purchasing habits and behavior. The research showed that over half of all consumers already buy or want to buy sustainably. One in three already purchase products with sustainability in mind and of those who don’t, 21 percent reveal that they would like to do so.
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Joining brands such as Lifebuoy, Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Hellmann’s, Sunlight is a new entrant to the Sustainable Living brands list. The brand released a new handwashing laundry powder in South Africa, which uses SmartFoam technology to break down suds faster, halving the number of rinses required to wash laundry. In a region plagued by drought, the product has helped users reduce water consumption.
Unilever also announced that it is on track to meet most of the 50+ targets set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. As the result of rolling out eco-efficiency measures in its factories since 2008, the company has avoided costs of over €700 million, of which its waste program has contributed to cost avoidance of around €250 million. At the same time, Unilever reduced risk exposure by increasing its use of renewable energy in its manufacturing sites to 31.6 percent and continuing to source over 50 percent of its agricultural raw materials sustainably by the end of 2016.
Sustainable Living brands now account for 18 of Unilever’s top 40 brands and the company is actively working to bring about transformational change throughout its whole value chain and further develop its portfolio of Sustainable Living brands to meet consumer needs.
The company also recently unveiled a new technology that enables plastic sachets to be recycled and has committed to roll out How2Recycle labels on their products in stores across North America.