In an announcement made by the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods behemoth Unilever, the company is set to become 100% carbon neutral by 2030. Since its campaign began in 2015, the company has achieved carbon neutral status in 15 of its sites around the world by switching to renewable energy sources, and 111 of its manufacturing sites across 36 countries spanning 5 continents are now using 100% renewable grid electricity. Once the corporation achieves carbon neutrality across its entire operations, they hope to work towards carbon positivity. In the thick of our current climate crisis, Unilever is among the businesses hoping to change tack before it is too late, and hopefully end up on the right side of history if we manage to tackle the greatest issue our planet is facing today.
The global consumer goods group Unilever, who owns major personal care and F&B brands from Dove to Ben & Jerry’s and Knorr, has just announced that it is on track to meet its carbon neutral commitments by 2030, meaning that it will have no net impact on carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Since its initial campaign to move towards carbon positivity in 2015 began, the giant has already managed to use only 100% renewable electricity across offices, factories, warehouses and distribution centres across 5 continents. This accounts for 67% of the total grid electricity consumption by the company, who hope to be able to achieve the target of using only renewables across every location in the world by the end of 2020. If they manage to do so, it will mark a 50% cut in their carbon emissions.
In addition to ditching fossil fuels, the company has worked to make its operations more energy and resource efficient, and has made investments in clean technologies.
“The climate emergency is one of the most urgent challenges we’re all facing. Our team has worked hard to secure renewable energy contracts for our sites across 5 continents, accelerating the delivery of our 100% renewable energy targets…Renewable is doable,” said Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer at Unilever.
This is not the first time Unilever has demonstrated commitment to sustainability. After his earlier comments against companies that are “woke washing” by only making public postures on eco-friendly measures without following up on real change, the multinational’s CEO Alan Jope told journalists that the company is willing to sell off brands that do not positively contribute to the planet and societies. Through its Sustainable Living programme, Unilever’s 400-brand strong portfolio will only include those companies that are currently developing long-term sustainability plans that consider environmental and community demands.
Unilever’s move comes as businesses around the world are realising that to remain competitive in the market, they must start showing credible commitments to environmentally friendly pledges. In a recent report by the Center of Sustainable Business (CSB) at New York University, researchers found that shoppers are consistently purchasing more sustainable goods across every product category, evidence that companies must make greener business decisions to appeal to consumer tastes. This explains why other global companies such as British beauty brand LUSH has created a carbon positive cork packaging, and luxury fashion label Gucci has achieved carbon neutrality through reforestation offsetting programs. From a long-termer’s perspective, businesses that choose to scale up climate-friendly solutions now are more likely to reap the rewards in the future.
It looks like multinational brands are finally starting to price in the impact of climate change and respond to the pressure from an increasingly ethical and eco-conscious younger consumer market. “Of course, there is more work to do, but we hope that today’s announcement will inspire further action elsewhere,” concluded Engel.
Lead image courtesy of Yahoo News / Unilever.