Climate change is now a global crisis. We’re taking action across our business and through our brands.
We believe in a better future. One in which the health of the planet is as important as the stability of the global economy.
We’re transitioning to renewable energy across our operations, finding new lower carbon ingredients, reformulating our products to offer plant-based alternatives like vegan foods and fossil-fuel-free cleaning products.
We’re aiming to achieve net zero emissions from our products up to point of sale by 2039. That’s 11 years ahead of the 2050 deadline outlined in the international Paris Agreement on climate change.
Learn more about our global strategy and goals here and check out the progress we’ve made in Australia and New Zealand below.
Our operations are powered by 100% renewable electricity
In January 2020, Unilever Australia joined Unilever globally in switching to 100% renewable electricity to power all of our operations, well ahead of our end-2020 target. The majority of Unilever’s renewable electricity supply is met through a five-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with energy retailer Red Energy, which directly supports a number of wind and solar farms across NSW, Victoria & South Australia. The remainder is covered by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates.
As a result of making this switch, Unilever has reduced its greenhouse emissions by about 30,840 tonnes of CO2, each year. This is equivalent to the emissions generated by powering more than 3,600 Australian homes or 6,600 cars annually.
Now, we’re looking at how we can electrify more processes and exploring alternatives to gas for our heating processes. For example, we are using solar thermal in our Tatura factory – this means we use stored hot water to help in our heating processes, reducing our reliance on gas. As a result, we’re reducing CO2 emissions by 300 tonnes each year.
Driving into a zero-carbon future
In 2017, Unilever was the first FMCG organisation to join The Climate Group’s EV100 global initiative. As part of EV100, we have committed to a phased integration of electric vehicles into the fleets that we directly control – the ones we own or lease.
We shifted 100% of our New Zealand fleet to hybrid in February 2020. This has resulted in a 43% reduction in emissions from our fleet compared to 2018. We have also shifted about a third of our Australian fleet to hybrid with the aim to get to 100% by end-2022.
We’re also taking steps to transform our logistics, including increasing truck and container utilisation (ie. filling them to the brim) so that we can reduce the number of trucks on the road and ships at sea. And where we can, we prioritise low emission vehicles over heavy vehicles, as well as using rail transport over road.
Reducing our emissions one “lick” at a time
In 2004, Unilever scientists started pioneering the use of hyper energy-efficient ice cream freezers. Since then, we have installed over 55,000 greener freezers in Australia and New Zealand, which is equivalent to 85% of all our freezers across Australia and New Zealand.
We also know that reducing dairy intake is a critical way of reducing emissions, so we’re accelerating the availability of our dairy free options, including Magnum Dairy Free and Weis Sorbets.
Reformulating for a cleaner future
We’re transforming the way our cleaning and laundry products are created, manufactured and packaged, to give people superior, affordable experiences with our brands, with the peace of mind that they are kinder to the planet.
Central to this programme is a carbon revolution and a new ambition we have set for the business - to replace 100% of the carbon derived from fossil fuels in our cleaning and laundry product formulations with renewable or recycled carbon by 2030.
We’re already making progress in Australia and New Zealand by reformulating our Omo and Persil laundry detergents. We’ve replaced some of the fossil fuelchemicals with naturally derived stain removers and biodegradable enzymes.
Unfudge our future
Ben & Jerry’s has been championing climate justice in Australia for years. Check out some of their key initiatives over the past 5 years.
Ben and Jerry’s released a limited-edition flavour - Gimme S’More Renewables – and sent customised pints to Australian political leaders calling for them to commit to building a fossil-fuel free world by accelerating Australia’s move to renewable energy.
Ben and Jerry’s teamed up with 350.org to create the #VoteClimate campaign. Working alongside the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Ben and Jerry’s found out that while many university students were eligible to vote, many were not enrolled, and their voices were not getting heard. So, they ran a campaign to help university students check they were enrolled resulting in over 3,000 conversations about climate change, and 2,100 young Australians confirming their enrolment to vote.
Ben & Jerry’s took their efforts to a whole new level with Unfudge Our Future - their biggest Climate Justice campaign yet, in Australia. They called their fans to action, asking them to join Ben & Jerry’s and their partners 350.org in calling for investment in a cleaner, resilient and fairer Australia in the 2020 Federal budget. Over 10,000 messages were sent and to make the campaign a little bit sweeter, Ben & Jerry’s released its first limited edition Non-Dairy flavour to promote awareness about climate action among Australians.
Ben & Jerry’s partnered with a fellow B Corporation – 4Pines - to release a limited-edition Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Nitro Ale. As part of the collaboration, Ben & Jerry’s and 4 Pines funded a solar panel installation for a regional community group. Any savings the community group makes on energy costs are then reinvested into purchasing solar panels for other community organisations. By doing so the two planet-loving B Corporations have created a revolving fund for renewables.
Creating an ambition loop to drive transformational action
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of the fragility of our economy. It has also been the perfect example of an ‘ambition loop’ in action - a virtuous cycle where businesses, policymakers, NGOs and the wider community share a common goal and push each other towards it, supportively.
The ongoing climate crisis is another clear threat to our shared stability and its impacts are equally complex and challenging to mitigate. Just as our response to the pandemic has required collaboration like never before, climate action must also be a collective effort and it requires transformational changes to the broader systems in which we operate.
This must start with governments across the world taking a bipartisan approach to climate action, accelerating investment in renewables, incentivising the right behaviour with pricing mechanisms, and setting targets now to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.
Businesses also have a role to play. Through our recent switch to 100% renewable electricity, as well as our global commitments, we want to demonstrate that governments across the world can go even further and faster in setting clear policies. This will create the right context for change, which will raise the bar across industries and drive business action. Action drives policy and policy then drives further action.
We’ve been members of the NZ Climate Leaders Coalition since 2018 and in 2020, we joined the Australian Climate Leaders Coalition. We’ve also joined WWF-Australia and over 100 businesses in calling for our Government to accelerate Australia’s renewable energy capacity.