LONDON — Unilever PLC announced a new series of sustainability goals and commitments, including reaching net zero emissions from all its products by 2039.
To help meet the goal, the company will set up a system for its suppliers to declare on each invoice the carbon footprint of the goods and services provided. It also aims to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023 using digital technologies such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain.
“Last year, we set out a plan to tackle perhaps the most visible environmental issue we have in the consumer goods industry: Plastic packaging,” said Alan Jope, chief executive officer at Unilever. “We set ourselves new and stretching targets that include halving our use of virgin plastic and helping collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell. While it’s critical to address the impact that our products have at the end of their life, it’s just as important to continue to look at the impact they have on the planet at the start of their life — in the sourcing of materials — as well as in their manufacture and transport.”
The company’s brands will collectively invest €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in a new dedicated Climate & Nature fund. The fund will be used over the next decade for projects including landscape restoration, reforestation, carbon sequestration, wildlife protection and water preservation.
Other measures include implementing water stewardship programs for 100 local communities by 2030, joining the 2030 Water Resource Group, introducing a Regenerative Agriculture Code for all suppliers and working with partners to make product formulations biodegradable by 2030.
The new initiatives will build on current projects, including Ben & Jerry’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms and Knorr’s sustainable farming programs.
“While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us,” Jope said. “Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity — all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously… We have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis as a business and through direct action by our brands.”