Unilever is committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and increasing their energy efficiency. It currently uses the latest and most cost-effective technological advancements in renewable energy to power one-third of all its manufacturing sites.
In 2010, Unilever launched its Sustainability Living Plan and pledged to help more than one billion people improve their health and well-being, cut the environmental footprint that is caused by manufacturing and use of its product in half, and enhance the lives of millions of people. Through this strategy, Unilever plans to double their business while simultaneously doubling their use of renewable energy to 40% by 2020, and eventually reaching their long term goal of being 100% renewable.
Unilever is a large purchaser of renewable energy. Specifically, their manufacturing sites in Europe, Canada and the U.S. – which is one-third of all their manufacturing sites globally – are already 100% powered by purchased electricity from renewable sources. That is a reduction of 600,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and equivalent to approximately one-third of their total emissions worldwide.
Purchasing renewable electricity requires quite a bit of trust because, sometimes, there is a lack of certainty of where the electricity is coming from. That is why Unilever US teamed up with NRG to provide majority of its power from a single source. NRG’s Langford Wind Farm in Texas provides Unilever with 80% of their overall production, which is about 525,000 MWh of wind energy each year and is enough to power all of Unilever U.S.’s manufacturing sites. Because of the common nature of renewable energy certificates (RECs) and their multiple points of origin, Unilever decided to partner with NRG to become more certain about the source of their renewable energy.
Across the globe, 28% of the energy used by Unilever factories comes from renewable sources, with 39% of this electricity specifically produced from Unilever’s partnership with NRG’s windfarm.
Unilever has created ambitious goals to become 100% renewable by 2020 to not only improve the future of the environment, but also because the cost-effectiveness of the market is beneficial to the growth of their company.
“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,” John Maguire, Unilever’s Group Manufacturing Sustainability Director said. “Eco-efficiency isn’t 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,” Maguire added. “The benefits are very clear in a world where energy prices are increasing.”