As a global consumer products giant, with $44 billion euros [nearly $60 billion] in 2010 revenues, Unilever has a big impact on how and what people buy. Two billion consumers use a Unilever product on any given day. If you use Lipton Tea, eat Hellman’s mayonnaise or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or use Dove or Lifebuoy soaps or Suave hair products, you’re among them.
Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO, embraces the idea that his company can make the world more just and sustainable. Unilever buys about 4-5% of the world’s palm oil, so it has promised to purchase all its palm oil from certified sustainable sources by 2015. It buys about 7% of the world’s tea, making it the world’s largest buyer, so Unilever aims to have all the tea in all Lipton tea bags sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ estates by 2015, and 100% of its tea sustainably sourced by 2020.
“We have to take that responsibility,” Polman said today (Nov. 22) during a webcast called Sustainable Living: Mainstream or pipe dream? The webcast, organized by the Guardian Sustainable Business, was held a year after Unilever released its sweeping Sustainable Living Plan, in which it promised to cut the environmental footprint of its products in half, help more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, and source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably. [See my 2010 blogpost, Unilever’s big, broad, bold sustainability plan.]
But there are limits to what even a big company can do, so Unilever has begun thinking seriously about how to change consumer behavior around sustainability. Today, it released a new report called Inspiring Sustainable Living [available for download] which identifies five levers for change: Make it understood, make it easy, make it desirable, make it rewarding, make it a habit. [click to continue…]