Growing business while benefiting environment and livelihood
Unilever, one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products, fortifies its commitment to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. Launched in November 2010, the USLP global campaign has three key targets that it aims to achieve by 2020: (1)help more than a billion people improve their health and wellbeing, (2)halve the environmental footprint of products, and (3) source 100% of raw materials sustainably.
“Two years into our plan, we are starting to see how putting sustainability at the heart of our business model is contributing to our success and creating a virtuous circle of growth,” said Peter Cowan, Unilever Philippines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Cowan added that globally, the company grew by 10.5%, taking the sales turnover to over €50 billion for the first time in Unilever’s history. Moreover, Unilever announced in early April that it is now sourcing 36% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably, exceeding the interim goal of 30%.
Locally, Unilever Philippines is working hard to contribute to the global delivery of the USLP targets and has seen significant results in the first two years of the campaign.
Improving health and well-being
True to one of the USLP campaign’s three pillars, Unilever Philippines is helping build a billion better lives by implementing various projects for better oral health, proper handwashing, sanitation and nutrition.
Among these is the “Batang May K Program,” which promotes day and night teeth brushing. The program has benefited 10,000 children from Batangas day care centers in 2012. Supported by the company’s oral care brand Pepsodent in partnership with the Philippine Dental Association, the project is expanding its reach this year to two more provinces, Cavite and Camarines Sur.
In addition, Vaseline Soap’s “Pledge Hands to Save Lives” campaign raises awareness on the importance of handwashing, an effective way to reduce the risk of diarrhea and respiratory diseases. In 2012, the project has reached 500,000 children together with its government and non-government agency partners and is aiming to match the same number this year.
Last year, Unilever Philippines also celebrated World Toilet Day in the country by promoting proper toilet sanitation, as toilets can be easy breeding grounds for harmful microorganisms that can cause infectious diseases. Together with its multi-purpose cleaning brand Domex, the company supported two hospitals, namely the San Lazaro Hospital and National Children’s Hospital in Manila.
Reducing environmental impact
Promoting smarter and greener living, Unilever Philippines tackles sachet waste through its Sachet Recovery Program. Through partnerships with local communities, Unilever collects used sachets and is currently exploring conversion of recovered sachets into other useful items such as constructions boards and fuel.
In 2012 alone, the company collected 10 million post-consumer sachets and is targeting to reach 30 million sachets this year. With consumer redemption promos such as the Fiesta ng Surfresa, the company encourages end users to send their empty sachets in exchange for discounts and other prizes. Through the Sachet Recovery Program, it also hopes to address the challenges on waste and educate communities to keep their surroundings clean.
Unilever Philippines is setting its sights not only on growing its business, but also on improving the lives of Filipinos. Since 2009, the company has been empowering micro-entrepreneurs through its SuperStores program, helping grow sari-sari stores and providing training and incentive programs for the owners. By the end of 2012, there were already 2,100 SuperStores in nine different regions across the country and an additional 500 are slated to open this year.
Unilever is also linking smallholder farmers to the company’s supply chain, working on its goal to source 100% of raw materials sustainably. In 2012, the company worked with 70 purple yam (ube) farmers from Gawad Kalinga, who provided 10% of the requirements for its Selecta ice cream.
Among the company’s 2013 plans are forming strategic partnerships with more tuber farms in other provinces, and kicking off local sourcing of peanut and tamarind for its Selecta and Knorr Sinigang Mix brands. Apart from helping increase the income of local farmers, this also allows the company to reduce its carbon footprint.
Cowan emphasized that multisectoral partnership is the key to the attainment of these ambitious goals. “This has been the formula that led to the success of past social and environmental initiatives locally. The challenge is to strengthen and make the partnership work harder,” he added.
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