Working with others to reduce our environmental impact

Partnerships help us work towards our goal of growing our business while reducing our impact on the environment.

Foodbank in the UK

At Unilever, our ambition is to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact - and we cannot achieve it acting alone. Working with others through global partnerships plays a part in helping the business change things on a global scale.

Two areas in which we have formed effective partnerships are in our approach to waste and our commitment to address deforestation. Partnerships with a range of food banks are helping us achieve our waste reduction targets while making a positive difference to people's lives, and our partnership with WWF is aimed at protecting one million trees in Brazil and Indonesia.

Working with food banks and our 'zero waste' ambition

Unilever has a ‘zero waste mind-set’, and since the launch of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan in 2010, our supply chain has delivered significant reductions in the amount of waste sent to landfill from our operations. Global partnerships are contributing to this goal by working with food banks to reduce waste in the supply chain, finding ways to create a positive social impact while making environmental improvements.

Thanks to Unilever´s broad portfolio of brands and the far reach of our operations, we are in a unique position to help food banks by providing essential everyday items – from food to homecare and personal care products. By enhancing in-kind donations of products that would otherwise go to landfill, we are supporting Unilever’s target to become a zero waste company.

In November 2015, we signed a partnership with the Global FoodBanking Network – an international non-profit organization that fights hunger and poverty around the world. This will help us build our worldwide scale and add to other partnerships we already have in place - such as our three-year partnership with the Federation of European Food Banks, designed to reduce waste while improving the livelihoods of some of Europe’s poorest people by enhancing in-kind donations across the continent and providing volunteer support from Unilever employees.

We are also working with Oxfam to support the setting up of new community food banks and the re-distribution of surplus food and other Unilever products in the UK. In the US, we support Feeding America, the leading domestic hunger-relief charity, and its nationwide network of food banks.

Fighting deforestation with the World Wildlife Fund

Stopping deforestation is an urgent priority in tackling climate change. Forests are second only to the oceans as the largest global store of carbon, and support 80% of terrestrial biodiversity across the globe. Our partnership with WWF aims to raise awareness of the importance of forests to life on earth as well as the threats our forests face.

We are helping to protect one million trees in two of the world’s most threatened areas, Brazil and Indonesia, with special emphasis on reducing deforestation and forest degradation, restoring forest areas, promoting sustainable forest management and increasing tree stocks in agricultural landscapes.

Improving sustainability in partnership with Rainforest Alliance

In more than 10 years of collaboration, Unilever and Rainforest Alliance have supported the transition of more than 750,000 smallholders to sustainable practices.

We have pioneered a range of sustainable agriculture programmes in a variety of territories and commodities, which have improved livelihoods in crops such as tea, cocoa, pepper and vanilla-producing communities. We are also working together to certify key ingredients that are important to our brands including tea for Lipton and PG tips, vanilla and cocoa for our ice-cream category and pepper for Knorr.

The global challenge: in numbers

  • 5% of global greenhouse gases are produced by the decay of solid waste1
  • 80% of global waste goes to landfill
  • Deforestation contributes up to 15% of greenhouse gas emissions and threatens 1.6 billion livelihoods2
  • 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 36 football fields every minute3

Unilever's environmental targets for 2020 include:

  • Zero waste to landfill
  • Achieve zero net deforestation associated with four commodities: palm oil, soy, paper and pulp, and beef
  • Source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably

1United Nations Environment Programme, Green Economy Report

2WWF: Deforestation – Threats

3Deforestation – Threats

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