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Unilever discusses payback of Sustainable Living Plan

Company official highlights savings in long-term manufacturing processes, increasing employee morale and consumer attractiveness

| | Nov 8, 2018 | 1:35 pm
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Dubai, UAE, 8 November 2018: During an industry forum focusing on SDG Goal 12 ‘sustainable consumption and production’, for the  sixth edition of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Sanjiv Kakkar, Executive Vice President, Unilever MENA, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, discussed the payback of the company’s sustainability initiatives, and how such commitments enhance the company’s global competitive advantage. “We have now run the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan since 2010 and it has gathered momentum,” he said. “We find that over this period, if you look at the total cost saving that has come out from what you could classify as sustainability initiatives, whether around energy, waste or management of water resources, in our manufacturing cycle, we have had savings of around EUR 700-750 million (USD 799.3-856.4 million) over this eight-year period.”

Kakkar added that more and more brands under Unilever embed sustainability in their core, be it in their communication strategy or in product formulation, as it resonates strongly with consumers, which is driving further growth in this direction. Kakkar also said that appreciation for sustainability provides employees with a sense of purpose, in knowing that the company they work for cares about the environment. “It also works extremely well as a platform to attract the younger generation because they care far more deeply about these issues,” he said. “So,whether in terms of trust, growth or talent, [investing in sustainability] has dramatic positive impact.”

Kakkar also discussed Unilever’s ambition to be carbon positive by 2030. “The key driver for that is going to be energy consumption,” he said. “The energy we consume has to be from sustainable sources. Now, the big energy consumption happens in our manufacturing plants and we are fortunate here that there is a great drive towards this in the United Arab Emirates, where they have set up large solar facilities.” Moving forward, Kakkar said, Unilever will be sourcing a part of that grid, so that a certain percentage of energy would be classified as green, but the end goal is to source 100% of the energy from the grid. However, he emphasised that the feasibility of the company’s ambitious environmental plan varies throughout the region, as many countries are not as proactive in integrating renewable sources within their energy grids. According to the company, its Personal Care Manufacturing Facility in Dubai is one of the first factories in the region to have the largest private solar park, delivering 2MW out of its 9MW clean energy requirements.

While there are a number of emerging technologies in the cold chain sector that could support the company in achieving its goals, Kakkar said there are still gaps and areas of improvement. “Technology moved to a level where things are possible in many areas and demand from corporates will drive it,” he said, “which is why it’s good that corporates set the goals, because then, it drives manufacturers to push themselves to upgrade their technology, knowing there is a demand.” Unless and until the private sector sets the bar, he said, the supply chain will not follow.


Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com

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