Unilever Beauty & Personal Care targets 1.5 million hectares of nature conservation by 2030

Unilever's Beauty & Personal Care arm, which owns brands like Dove and Vaseline, has committed to conserving and restoring 1.5 million hectares of habitat by 2030 as part of a new sustainability strategy.

The announcement builds on Unilever's confirmation of a €1bn climate and nature fund and €2bn pot for supporting suppliers from marginalised social groups

The announcement builds on Unilever's confirmation of a €1bn climate and nature fund and €2bn pot for supporting suppliers from marginalised social groups

Called ‘Positive Beauty’, Unilever said the strategy has been designed to help its Beauty & Personal Care division drive growth while “building a new era of beauty that is more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable”.

The strategy outlines how Beauty & Personal Care Brands will contribute to Unilever’s overarching visions on climate and nature as well as social sustainability. On the former, the business has a 2039 net-zero target and a €1bn climate and nature fund to finance its delivery. On the latter, Unilever announced in January that all workers across the value chain will receive a living wage by 2030 and earmarked a €2bn pot to help those from under-represented social groups.

The nature commitment is the headline environmental sustainability ambition for ‘Positive Beauty’. It covers oceans, forests and other land-based habitats. Unilever has said that it will work with NGOs and national governments to ensure that projects are delivered in line with best practice approaches.

‘Positive Beauty’ also reiterates Unilever’s overarching commitments to shift to biodegradable product formulations by 2030 and to halve its use of virgin plastic packaging by 2025.

Away from the environmental impact of the business, the strategy outlines a commitment to help improve the health and wellbeing of one billion people per year by 2030 – beyond the impact of product use. Existing educational initiatives on hygiene will be expanded and new programmes on physical health and mental wellbeing will be developed, for example.

This commitment also covers measures designed to improve inclusivity. Unilever has said that it will champion inclusion via the imagery it uses in advertising and the people it employs as representatives. Digital alterations of body shape, size and skin colour will be banned, as will the word ‘normal’ on packaging. At the same time, it will diversify its portfolio of products in the name of inclusivity – for example, developing more hair care lines for afro-textured hair.

‘Positive Beauty’ additionally contains a commitment to support a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023. More than 20 of Unilever’s beauty and personal care brands are certified as not using animal testing by PETA but the business has faced criticism from anti-animal-testing groups for continuing to sell in China, where the government requires animal testing by law. This law could change this year.

Sustainability and profitability

Unilever Beauty & Personal Care president Sunny Jain said the vision will help the company “not only do less harm but more good for both people and the planet”.

“With more consumers than ever rewarding brands which take action on the social and environmental issues they care about, we believe that Positive Beauty will make us a stronger, and more successful business,” Jain said.

To this point, Unilever’s ‘Sustainable Living Brands’ – those with a purpose beyond their products – grew more than twice as fast as the business as a whole during 2020. This cohort of brands has been financially out-performing for several consecutive years now.

Sarah George  



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