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Unilever sets out 2030 biodegradable product plans

© Ben & Jerry’s

“Our collective responsibility in tackling the climate crisis is to drive an absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, not simply focus on offsetting – and we have the scale and determination to make it happen.”

Consumer goods giant Unilever plans to make all its products biodegradable over the next decade and disclose the amount of carbon used to produce them in an effort to tackle the climate crisis.

The company, which owns brands like Vaseline, Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, made the announcement in its new climate plan.

In a statement, the company said it will invest €1 billion into a “climate and nature fund” that will address reforestation, wildlife protection and water preservation.

It added: “To further protect water resources, we also aim to make our product formulations biodegradable by 2030, to minimise their impact on water and the aquatic ecosystems. Although some of the ingredients that we currently use have no viable biodegradable alternatives, we will work with partners to drive innovation and find solutions to help us reach our ambition.”

Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, (@unilever) explained: “While the world is dealing with the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and grappling with serious issues of inequality, we can’t let ourselves forget that the climate crisis is still a threat to all of us. Climate change, nature degradation, biodiversity decline, water scarcity – all these issues are interconnected, and we must address them all simultaneously. In doing so, we must also recognise that the climate crisis is not only an environmental emergency; it also has a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods. We, therefore, have a responsibility to help tackle the crisis: as a business, and through direct action by our brands.”

Elsewhere, by 2023, Unilever aims to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain. To do this, we will increase traceability and transparency by using emerging digital technologies – such as satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking and blockchain – accelerating smallholder inclusion and changing our approach to derivates sourcing.

The company also said that it was committed to working with the industry, NGOs and governments, to look beyond forests, peatlands and tropical rainforests, and to protect other important areas of high conservation value and high carbon stock which are under threat of conversion to arable land, with potentially devastating impact on the natural habitats.

Unilever also aims to entirely remove or offset the emissions from all its products by 2039, from the sourcing of materials to the point of sale. Suppliers will be required to disclose the carbon intensity of the goods and services they provide, so that the company can publicise how much carbon has been emitted in the process of manufacturing and getting its products to shoppers.

Marc Engel, Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer, said: “Our collective responsibility in tackling the climate crisis is to drive an absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, not simply focus on offsetting – and we have the scale and determination to make it happen. But this is not enough. If we want to have a healthy planet long into the future, we must also look after nature: forests, soil biodiversity and water ecosystems.

“In most parts of the world, the economic and social inclusion of farmers and smallholders in sustainable agricultural production is the single most important driver of change for halting deforestation, restoring forests and helping regenerate nature. In the end, they are the stewards of the land. We must, therefore, empower and work with a new generation of farmers and smallholders in order to make a step change in regenerating nature.”


If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below.

Read: Unilever and Bio-on officially unveil new sunscreens made from biodegradable bioplastics.

Read: Bioplastics to ‘play key role’ in implementation of circular economy and EU environmental directives.

ReadIndustry experts query whether bioplastics can solve the plastic pollution problem at sustainability conference.

Read: Biome Bioplastics unveils new tool to help detangle the ‘complexities of plastics’.

Read:Five very different ways that can help tackle the global plastic crisis.

Read:Mixed industry response to European ban on plastic straws, bags and cotton buds.

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