Unilever announced that, since 2008, the company has achieved a CO2 reduction of more than one million tonnes from its manufacturing and logistics operations. This is equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road.
This milestone was achieved while growing sales by 26% from €40.5 billion in 2008 to €51.3 billion in 2012. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a key target within the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
John Maguire, Unilever’s group manufacturing sustainability director, said, “CO2 emissions and climate change continue to present businesses with significant challenges. But, they also offer opportunities. Our primary focus is to reduce overall energy use by improving the eco-efficiency of everything we do in our factories, offices and other operations. We leverage our global scale by selecting ideas that have the best financial and eco-efficiency payback and then implement them globally. We are also committed to ensuring as much as possible of the energy we use comes from sustainable sources, for example 100% of the electrical energy we buy in Europe and North America comes from renewable sources.”
“Eco-efficiency isn’t just about reducing the environmental footprint it also makes good business sense. Since 2008 our eco-efficiency programs have avoided more than €300 million of costs. Almost €100 million in energy; €186 million in materials; €17 million in water; and €10 million in waste disposal. The benefits are very clear in a world where energy prices are increasing”, Maguire adds.
The one million tonnes CO2 reduction is a combination of 838,000 tonnes CO2 achieved from improvements in manufacturing activities and 211,000 tonnes CO2 reduction from making global logistics operations more efficient. Unilever is continuously improving eco-efficiency in manufacturing and logistics. Below some examples of game changers in 2012:
- Cost efficient renewable energy from biomass boilers have the double benefit of reducing bio-waste and helping the company to reach its 40% renewable energy target. Unilever now has 30 biomass boilers globally supplying more than 7% of our renewable energy, with six more planned for this year in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
- Combined heat and power plant (CHP) is another technology that not only helps Unilever to save money through reduced energy costs, but also to achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions. In Europe, using CHP has helped to reduce CO2 by 50,000 tonnes and save €10 million. In 2013, Unilever is planning to install CHP units in Mexico and South Africa.
- Unilever is also maximizing transport efficiencies through the creation of the UltraLogistik control tower in Katowice, Poland. The control tower model enables more efficient coordination of thousands of transport movements across road, rail, sea and air of Unilever products reducing CO2 and improving customer service. Last but not least it also saved the company €50 million in costs since 2008. As part of the UltraLogistik transport network Unilever is creating regional distribution hubs. These will improve operational efficiency and reduce distance traveled by 175 million km in Europe alone. This benefit was a key factor for Unilever being awarded a Marco Polo grant of €5.7 million to invest and develop sustainable transport of goods across Europe. The UltraLogistik model is now being rolled out globally.