Interview Transcript

Julie, can you just provide some context to Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan and how Unilever, but also the big CPG companies approach to sustainability has evolved over the last five years?

Absolutely. To start with, I probably need to take you all back a decade, to when we launched our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. When we did that, we were very much leaders in the space. We came out with a plan to really transform the entirety of our business, across the value chain, right from sustainable sourcing, through to circular economy, and all our touchpoints along that. We had, really, three big goals.

The first goal was to positively impact the health and wellbeing of a billion people. Secondly, to radically reduce our environmental impact. Thirdly, to provide livelihoods for millions of people, as well. In the time that we’ve been doing that, over the last 10 years, we’ve seen many other companies come out with commitments in all of these sorts of areas. Including, of course, when we talk about our environmental impact, we can’t do that without talking about our plastics and packaging footprint. We’ve also been on a decade-long journey, with those commitments, really thinking about how we change our plastic supply chain; how do we think about really making that more sustainable and work with the ecosystem that we’re dependent on there.

In terms of our commitments, around plastics specifically, which we’ll be talking about today, in the circular economy context. In 2017, we said, what we will do is ensure that all of our packaging is either reusable, recyclable or compostable, by 2025. Then last year, we came out with another set of really ambitious commitments, to reduce our absolute usage of virgin plastic and incorporate more recycled material into our packaging. Also, to collect more plastic from the markets that we operate than we actually put into the market than we sell. Again, we’re delighted to see many other CPG, consumer packaged goods companies, and other peers in our space, also coming out with commitments. We really think that we have a huge role to play, but it’s not something that we can do on our own. It really takes all of us to transform that ecosystem.

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