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History of Unilever’s Sustainability Efforts


Due to the current issue of climate change, many organizations tend to come up with solutions intended to remove uncertainty and recognize the need to attain stability and focus on economic and environmental benefits. Unilever’s history shows that the company was interested in sustainable well-being from its founding date, with some of the major milestones being achieved during the 2010s. For instance, the deployment of the Sustainable Living Plan became a turning point for numerous individuals and organizations since Unilever attained growth and predicted the areas where the environmental impact would be the strongest (Grayson, 2017). In a sense, the organization went beyond its eco-friendly initiatives and also positively affected society. Unilever’s ambitions allowed it to create an international network of actors interested in achieving sustainability.

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When the Sustainable Living Plan was first launched in 2010, the organization planned to deploy a sustainable business model where individuals were going to become the ones contributing to their well-being and health. Following Abubakari and Thuranira (2021), this was one of the ways to strengthen existing supply chains and ensure that the organization is going to evolve together with the plan. In 2016, the Zero Waste initiative was developed and launched by Unilever to limit the amount of waste in landfills and find alternative means of reducing pollution (Grayson, 2017). Alternative uses were quickly discovered by the organization, making it safe for Unilever to convert waste into sustainable materials and contribute to human well-being worldwide.

Implementing Sustainability at Unilever

When implementing its sustainability strategy, Unilever expects to engage in specific climate action to ensure that the company protects the environment in the first place. For instance, one of the initiatives launched by Unilever required the organization to become an industry leader in terms of reducing waste (Lawrence et al., 2019). That strategy allowed the company to limit the amount of waste sent to landfills in all of the countries of operation, including numerous facilities, such as distribution centers, factories, and warehouses. As soon as Unilever implemented sustainable operations, it began investing in waste streams that were safe and harmless. This alternative route of development required the company to follow the 4R strategy: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and Recover (Grayson, 2017). Thus, alternative ways of using crucial resources allowed Unilever to protect nature and transform ambitions into real-life results without engaging in practices that could be bad for the environment.

Over the past decade, Unilever achieved a higher level of sustainability due to a relentless willingness to increase transparency and ensure that all of its operations are non-hazardous. While leveraging technology and focusing on environmental safety, the organization was able to increase its income while also securing equity in a variety of spheres of human lives (Lawrence et al., 2019). A sustainable livelihood was one of the primary targets for Unilever because the number of ecological emergencies to be addressed grows daily. Compared to other similar organizations, Unilever seems to be much more fixated on the development of a waste-free world where a circular economy is implemented in an attempt to reduce the waste footprint (Abubakari & Thuranira, 2021). From factory operations to plastic and packaging waste, Unilever expects to expand its corporate responsibilities to come up with even stronger values and standards to protect the environment.

Unilever Sustainability Assessment

Unilever is one of the essential world leaders in terms of attaining and exploring sustainability and all the opportunities linked to this notion. The company is known to advocate for sustainable business and ensure that its multinational organizational network recognizes the importance of the environmental impact of corporate operations. This was one of the main reasons why the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was developed, with the administration expecting to find the best ways to improve the company’s environmental performance (Lawrence et al., 2019). It was also intended to inform the company’s strategy and aid employees in terms of finding the most lucrative opportunities for promoting sustainability. Over time, methods of data analysis became more complex because Unilever had to monitor sustainability performance even more closer and consolidate all the knowledge. Thus, the number of metrics increased quickly because the volumes of people and performance data also grew in a geometric progression.

Annual “collect and report” sessions drastically affect Unilever since they highlight the best and the worst solutions explored by the company. All kinds of social and environmental data represent the key to ensuring Unilever’s sustainability because there are numerous areas where the organization’s performance has to be evaluated almost daily (Grayson, 2017). For example, it could be crucial for the company to gain more insight into home sustainability and define the possible approaches to packaging and waste reduction based on gas emissions and water use. The Sustainable Living Plan is also an opportunity for the organization to create a healthier society through community investments and setting nutrition targets on a countrywide or even a global scale (Abubakari & Thuranira, 2021). Different elements of safety have to be explored to support Unilever’s vision and implement all performance assessment measures in line with the original plan.


Abubakari, M., & Thuranira, B. (2021). The consumer goods sector and the sustainability agenda in Ghana: A review of sustainability commitments. Discover Sustainability, 2(1), 1-17. Web.

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Grayson, D. (2017). Overview of embedding corporate sustainability. In Cranfield on Corporate Sustainability (pp. 7-26). Routledge. Web.

Lawrence, J., Rasche, A., & Kenny, K. (2019). Sustainability as opportunity: Unilever’s sustainable living plan. In Managing Sustainable Business (pp. 435-455). Springer. Web.

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