Five things to know about our sustainable growth

Our latest report shows that we're delivering growth we can be proud of, while tackling many challenging sustainability issues. Here's our quick guide to progress in 2016.

Customer at a Unilever recycling station in Sao Paolo, Brazil

Our business is growing – and our latest results continue to show that our growth is sustainable, as well as profitable.

Each year, we report on our progress towards the goals we set ourselves in our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP). Launched in 2010 it is the roadmap for our vision of accelerating our growth while reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact.

Here are five things you should know about our progress for 2016, including the successes we've achieved and the big challenges that still remain.

We're seeing sustainability driving higher rates of growth...

...showing that our growth is consistent and competitive, as well as profitable and sustainable. Our 'sustainable living brands' – which all contribute to one or more of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan targets and have a clear sustainable living purpose – delivered over 60% of our growth in 2016. What's more, they grew more than 50% faster than the rest of the business. We now have 18 sustainable living brands – and they include our six biggest brands by turnover.

We're having positive social impacts on millions of lives...

...and we use every part of our value chain to deliver them. For example, we've helped around 920,000 women to access initiatives that aimed to promote their safety, develop their skills and expand their opportunities. We achieved this by working with our supply chain, and through initiatives that focused on selling and distributing our products. By the end of 2016 we will have helped 538 million people improve their health and hygiene, and around 650,000 smallholder farmers access initiatives aimed at improving their agricultural practices or incomes.

We've made great progress reducing environmental impacts in our factories and operations, though we still face challenges beyond them...

...because addressing some of the impact of how consumers use our products is taking time. Since 2008, in our manufacturing operations, we've cut CO2 from energy by 43%, water abstraction by 37% and total waste disposed of by 96% per tonne of production. 

Since 2010, the water impact of our products has reduced by around 7%, while the waste associated with consumer disposal of our products has reduced by around 28%. But the greenhouse gas impact of our products across their lifecycle, including consumer use, has now increased by around 8% since 2010. Despite the challenges, we remain fully committed to a value chain approach and being carbon positive in our own operations.

We're willing to expand our commitments where we need to...

...as we did in January 2017, when we announced that we're committed to ensuring that all of our plastic packaging is fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. We've also continued to embed human rights further into our business, and in 2016 integrated our human rights expertise into our supply chain organisation.

While there's more we need to do, we're confident we're on the right path...

...because our business model, with the USLP at its heart, continues to create value for us, for our shareholders, and for millions of people around the world. We have consistently grown ahead of our markets, steadily improved profitability and cash flow, and delivered strong shareholder returns since the USLP was launched.

Want to find out more? Visit the Sustainable Living section for more information.

Back to top