Reducing Environmental Impact
Driving Action on Climate Change
We are part of a growing voice in the business community who are working with Government and NGOs to help tackle climate change - one of the greatest challenges we face as a society and within our business.
We continue to work with organisations such as Sustainable Business Australia and the Business Council of Australia to help drive alignment, scale and momentum in both the private sector’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Australia’s role in achieving the 2015 Paris Climate Conference Agreement to keep global warming below 20C.
In 2016 we proudly took out the Business Leadership category at the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage Green Globe Awards which recognise businesses that have fully integrated environmental management and sustainable practices into all aspects of their strategy and operations in Australia (and NSW in particular).
Leading by example – our carbon positive ambition
In addition to our policy engagement and advocacy efforts, we are taking strong action to decouple our growth from our impacts and demonstrate that decarbonisation of the economy is both possible and makes good business sense.
In 2015 we sharpened our greenhouse gas strategy, setting a new ambition to become ‘carbon positive’ in our operations by 2030. This includes sourcing 100% of our energy across our operations from renewable sources and working with our partners to make any surplus energy we generate available to the markets and communities in which we operate. We have started this journey in Australia and New Zealand and have developed a renewable energy strategy outlining our roadmap for meeting this ambition.
Reduce GHG’s from Manufacturing
Our Lipton Ice Tea blow-filling process has helped us to lower our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce waste and transportation costs in Australia & New Zealand. The installation of an in-line bottle blowing facility at our factory in Tatura means we are able to purchase pre-form containers, which take up less space to transport, resulting in 1,200 less truck journeys each year. Our re-designed manufacturing process and energy recovery systems save over 1,300 tonnes of GHG’s annually and lightweight bottles and caps reduce 93 tonnes of plastic being used each year.
In 2016, we reduced C02 emissions per tonne of production in Australia by a further 4% compared to 2015 and 17% compared to our 2008 baseline. We achieved this through improving our manufacturing practices, streamlining processes and investing in new and more efficient technologies.
At our factory in Tatura, Victoria, we installed Environment Guard insulation covers in our roof and new valves in our boiler room to help save gas and reduce heat loss, as well as automatic controls for lighting & HVAC in our wet foods plant. These improvements have delivered an equivalent of 450 tonnes of CO2 savings per year. We’ve also saved 1,300 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually through our ‘Blowfill Line. Our Minto site in NSW has also implemented energy-saving initiatives including optimising the central heating ventilation and air-conditioning system, and overhauling air compressor motors.
Ines Mighera, Environment Coordinator explains how our people are leading the charge to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
“Many of the best ideas for improving our manufacturing processes and reducing our environmental impact have come from the factory floor. Our passionate people are empowered to look for opportunities to improve our business and achieve our USLP ambitions - this continuous improvement mindset has been key to reducing our CO2 emissions.”
Reduce GHG’s from Refrigeration
Since 2010, we’ve replaced more than 18,834 Streets ice cream freezers across Australia & New Zealand with new models that use hydrocarbon refrigerant (R290). Our new, more climate-friendly freezers not only emit less CO2 but are also more economical to run.
We continue to help our network of convenience stores, petrol outlets and corner shops reduce the environmental impact of our freezers through our Streets Freezer Care Program.
Patrick Kerr, Customer Development Director shares how reducing the environmental impact of our freezers is a win-win for our customers and our planet.
“Reducing our environmental footprint and delivering sustainable growth is as much about rolling out natural refrigerant technology as it is about ensuring our customers use and care for our freezers in the right way to maximise the environmental savings and longevity of each cabinet. Our Streets Freezer Care Programme features helpful tips and advice to help our customers run their freezers more efficiently, reduce their energy use which ultimately saves them money.”
Reduce Energy Consumption in our Offices
In 2014 we split our Australian head office across two sites, a new Sydney CBD site and a refurbished North Rocks facility. As a result, we have reduced electricity consumption in our offices through the installation of timer controlled sensor lighting and air conditioning in all our meeting rooms. The building where our CBD site is located has been awarded 4.5 out of 5 stars for energy under the National Australian Built Environment Ratings System (NABERS) criteria, reducing our energy use by 64% compared to our previous location.
We continue to work on reducing the environmental footprint of our Australian and New Zealand offices and are currently undertaking an audit of IT server rooms to maximise the energy efficiency of cooling equipment.
Waste & Packaging
We are committed to reducing the weight of packaging that we use by one third by 2020 through light weighting materials, optimising structural and material design, developing concentrated versions of our products and eliminating unnecessary packaging.
Our progress in Australia has been recognised by the Australian Packaging Covenant, with Unilever awarded the highest performing organisation in the “Large Pharmacy & Personal Care” category for the second year running and also taking out the overall Recycling Award in 2016.
We have launched a number of initiatives to reduce our packaging use in Australia and New Zealand:
- Our light-weight Lipton Ice Tea bottle necks and caps use approximately 20% less plastic, saving 93 tonnes of plastic each year.
- Removing foil wrapping and the paperboard trays from our Lipton Black Tea bags boxes resulted in a 32% primary packaging reduction for our 50 Tea Bag Packs and 35% for our 100 Tea Bag Packs. This means we use approximately 168 tonnes less of paperboard annually and have helped divert 41 tonnes of foil laminate packaging away from landfill.
- Our 200ml Sunsilk Shampoo and Conditioner bottles are now made with 29% less plastic which means we use less raw materials, save energy and reduce transportation costs.
We have built sustainability tools into our innovation management process to ensure all new innovations meet our Sustainable Packaging Guidelines.
As part of our commitment to source 100% of our raw materials from sustainable sources we request suppliers to use recycled content where possible. This requirement is included in all of our RFP’s (request for price) and our packaging material tenders.
Since 2015, we’ve partnered with The Red Group, an Australian closed loop recycling initiative for soft-plastics, to help improve packaging recycling rates. The REDcycle program enables consumers to recycle packaging such as Streets ice-cream wrappers and Continental packs which are then re-processed into new products such as outdoor furniture for schools and signage.
Through dedicated REDcycle collection bins at Coles and Woolworths, our partnership has helped divert nearly 2 million packs, or over 3.3 tonnes of flexible plastic packaging, away from landfill in 2016. Collectively, the efforts of all the REDcycle partners, have diverted over 77 million pieces of plastic from landfill to date.
In 2016, we set a new global target to ensure all of our plastic packaging is designed to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Globally we have rolled out a number of packs that use post-consumer recycled plastic and in 2015, around 4,900 tonnes of post-consumer recycled materials were incorporated into our rigid plastic packaging. In Australia and New Zealand 78% of our packaging is already made from recyclable materials and we are building a roadmap to meet the 2025 target.
Reduce Waste in Manufacturing
Continuing with our approach of reducing, reusing, recovering or recycling we have extended our ambition to become a zero waste business beyond our factories. In 2015 our Australian factories, offices and warehouses joined the list of 600 Unilever sites globally that are sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill. Through a combination of waste reduction and waste recycling initiatives, we’ve also reduced our total waste per tonne of production by 17% compared to 2016 - 16% reduction compared to 2008 baseline.
These achievements have been made possible by our dedicated and passionate people who continue to find innovative ways to reduce waste in our manufacturing operations. For example, our Minto factory established a dedicated team to identify issues, reposition waste bins on the production line and decontaminate ice cream waste. As a result, ice cream waste was able to be diverted to Earthpower and used to generate electricity or sent to local farmers to be used as stock-feed.
Upcycling is another solution that has enabled us to divert waste away from landfill at our Tatura factory. After improving recycling at the site, the Tatura factory took on the challenge of upcycling left over building materials into useful items. For example, old wooden crates and panels were turned into toys for charities and disadvantaged children by the Shepparton Men’s Shed.