Unilever has announced plans to meet its zero deforestation target by the end of this year, five years earlier than originally planned.
The firm’s Sustainable Wood Fibre-Based Material Policy outlines its commitment to eliminate deforestation from its supply chains and promote sustainable forest and pulp plantation management instead.
Under the policy, Unilever originally set a target to source 75 percent of all paper and cardboard for packaging from certified, sustainably-managed forests or from recycled material by 2015, rising to 100 per cent by 2020.
Yet Unilever managed to source 87 percent of such materials from sustainable sources in 2014, and 62 percent in 2013, demonstrating a steady improvement that has led the firm to bring forward its 100 percent target to the end of this year.
Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer for Unilever, commented that there was a clear business case for the decision, noting, “It helps us secure a sustainable supply of commodities into the future, and it is good news for forests and the people that live and depend on them.
“Action on forests can tackle emissions – at least 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year – while at the same time increasing food production sustainably and improving livelihoods.”
In addition to paper and cardboard packaging, Unilever aims to source all paper-based office materials from sustainable sources by 2020.
Unilever is one of only six major companies and one investor that have comprehensive policies in place to protect tropical forests, according to a report published in February by the Global Canopy Programme.