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Unilever highlights ‘good business sense’ of sustainability

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Unilever highlights ‘good business sense’ of sustainability

April 24
10:20 2013

Unilever has slashed €300m from its costs since 2008 due to sustainability initiatives, while also growing sales 26%, the company said as it unveiled a two year progress report on its Sustainable Living Plan this week.

The company has cut more than one million tonnes of carbon dioxide from its operations in that time – equivalent to taking 250,000 cars off the road, according to Unilever. Manufacturing operations accounted for most of the CO2 savings, at 838,000 tonnes, while logistics accounted for a further 211,000 tonnes.

Measures introduced under the company’s Sustainable Living Plan include combined heat and power (CHP) plants in Europe, which have saved the company €10m and reduced CO2 by 50,000 tonnes. It says it intends to install CHP plants in Mexico and South Africa this year.

And it has also set up 30 cost-efficient biomass boilers worldwide, which supply more than 7% of the company’s renewable energy. Six more are planned for Latin America, Africa and Asia this year.

Eco-efficiency isn’t just about reducing the environmental footprint. It also makes good business sense,” saidUnilever’s group manufacturing sustainability director John Maguire.

“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.”

He added that Unilever’s primary focus is to reduce overall energy use by improving the eco-efficiency of its factories, offices and other operations – but financial return is also a part of the equation when choosing new technologies.

“We leverage our global scale by selecting ideas that have the best financial and eco-efficiency payback and then implement them globally,” he said. “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.”

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