Some eye-opening stats: 9 billion people on the planet by 2050, two-thirds of the planet living in water-stressed conditions by 2025, and a 40 percent rise in food prices by 2020. Unilever , the company behind brands like Dove soap and Hellman’s mayonnaise, published its response to this changing world— a “Sustainable Living Plan” —in their 2012 Progress Report. The results cross production boundaries and demonstrate how designers and manufacturers alike can approach our drastically shifting future.
1. Help more than 1 billion people improve their health and well-being;
2. Halve the environmental footprint of their products;
3. Source 100 percent of their agricultural raw materials sustainably.
While Unilever estimates it reached 224 million people by the end of 2012, it wants to reach 1 billion by 2020—and add a positive punch to that reach. In developing areas, for example, the company's hand soaps can help prevent disease, and by continually improving the nutritional value of its foods, consumers can achieve a healthier diet (right now Unilever estimates 18 percent of its food portfolio met the criteria for highest nutritional standards in 2012). The company also wants to halve the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of its products by 2020 (it has already reduced GHG impact by 6 percent since 2010 via manufacturing and product reformulation, and use of renewable energy).
Unilever has many brands that require water usage, from detergents to toothpaste, and another big goal is to halve the water associated with product usage by 2020. Water use is a big issue for the company as it estimates the category has remained unchanged since 2010. How can it hit this goal? Reformulations such as “easy rinse” products, using less water in manufacturing, and also reducing water use in agriculture.