Unilever fast-tracks deforestation pledge into 2015

Consumer goods giant Unilever has pledged to sustainably source 100% of its wood-based packaging by the end of 2015 - five years ahead of schedule.

The original target for 100% sustainable wood-packaging was 2020, but Unilever reached 87% in 2014, up significantly from 62% the previous year.

The company said the pledge was motivated by a commitment to zero-deforesation, but added it was a sound financial decision.

Chief supply chain officer Pier Luigi Sigismondi said: “To meet our ambitious zero deforestation policies and support the move to prosperous and sustainable land use in developing countries, we need to work with all organisations in the value chain, such as our suppliers, NGO’s, and governments.

“The business case for doing this is clear. It helps us secure a sustainable supply of commodities into the future, and it is good news for forests and the people that live and depend on them.

“Action on forests can tackle emissions – at least 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year – while at the same time increasing food production sustainably and improving livelihoods

Commercial benefits

The move could also boost sales, as Unilever research across 11 countries found that three quarters of consumers would be more likely to purchase a product if they knew it was made from sustainably sourced ingredients. According to Nielsen, millennials are four times as responsive to sustainability credentials as the over 50s. 

Last week, the company finished first in Ofxam’s ‘Battle of the Brands‘ campaign which takes a look at the agricultural sourcing policies of the top 10 food and beverage companies.

Unilever was also commended by the Union of Concerned Scientists for its commitment to sustainable palm-oil.

On Tuesday, the Dutch company backed a ‘No Deforestation’ toolkit along with Asia Pulp and Paper and Greenpeace.

Brad Allen

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