Sustainable Living

Together we can change the way the world does business

Discover what drives us, and where we’re headed

Unilever has been a purpose-driven company from its origins. Today, our purpose is simple but clear – to make sustainable living commonplace.

We believe that business growth should not be at the expense of people and the planet. That’s why we’re changing the way we do business, and why we want to change the way business is done.

Our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) is a bold ambition to achieve change within our company. Launched in 2010, it is creating sustainable growth through our purpose-led brands, cutting business costs, reducing risk and helping us to build trust.

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan sets out to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint, while increasing our positive social impact. Our Plan has three big goals to achieve, underpinned by nine commitments and targets spanning our social, environmental and economic performance across the value chain. We will continue to work with others to focus on those areas where we can drive the biggest change and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We have three big goals

Improving Health
and well-being
for more than

1 billion

By 2020 we will help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

UN Sustainability Development Plan

We are taking action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

By 2020 we will help more than a billion people to improve their health and hygiene. This will help reduce the incidence of life-threatening diseases like diarrhoea.

1.24 billion people reached by end 2018 (653 million† via on-ground programmes; 587 million via handwashing TV reach)

  • Reduce diarrhoeal and respiratory disease through handwashing

  • Provide safe drinking water

  • Improve access to sanitation

  • Improve oral health

  • Improve self-esteem

  • Help improve skin healing

Find out more about health & hygiene

We will continually work to improve the taste and nutritional quality of all our products. The majority of our products meet, or are better than, benchmarks based on national nutritional recommendations. Our commitment goes further: by 2020, we will double the proportion of our portfolio that meets the highest nutritional standards, based on globally recognised dietary guidelines. This will help hundreds of millions of people to achieve a healthier diet.

48% of our portfolio by volume met highest nutritional standards in 2018

  • Reduce salt levels
Saturated fat:
  • Reduce saturated fat

  • Increase essential fatty acids

  • Reduce saturated fat in more products
  • Remove trans fat
  • Reduce sugar
Reduce calories:
  • In children's ice cream
  • In more ice cream products
  • Provide healthy eating information

Find out more about improving nutrition

impact by


By 2030 our goal is to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of our products as we grow our business.*

UN Sustainability Development Plan

We are taking action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Our products' lifecycle:

Halve the greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of our products across the lifecycle by 2030.

Our greenhouse gas impact per consumer use has increased by around 6% since 2010*

Our manufacturing:

By 2020 CO2 emissions from energy from our factories will be at or below 2008 levels despite significantly higher volumes.

-52% reduction in CO2 from energy per tonne of production since 2008

Become carbon positive in manufacturing:
  • Source all energy renewably

  • Source grid electricity renewably

  • Eliminate coal from energy mix

  • Make surplus energy available to communities

Reduce GHG from washing clothes:
  • Reformulation
  • Reduce GHG from transport

  • Reduce GHG from refrigeration
  • Reduce energy consumption in our offices
  • Reduce employee travel
Find out more about greenhouse gases

Our products in use:

Halve the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020.+

Our water impact per consumer use has reduced by around 2% since 2010*

Our manufacturing:

By 2020 water abstraction by our global factory network will be at or below 2008 levels despite significantly higher volumes.

-44% reduction in water abstraction per tonne of production since 2008

Reduce water use in the laundry process:
  • Products that use less water

  • Reduce water use in agriculture

Find out more about water use

Our products:

Halve the waste associated with the disposal of our products by 2020.

Our waste impact per consumer use has reduced by around 31% since 2010*

Our manufacturing:

By 2020 total waste sent for disposal will be at or below 2008 levels despite significantly higher volumes.

-97% reduction in total waste per tonne of production since 2008

Reduce waste from manufacturing:
  • Zero non-hazardous waste to landfill
  • Reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging

  • Reduce packaging

Recycle packaging:
  • Increase recycling and recovery rates

  • Increase recycled content

  • Tackle sachet waste

  • Eliminate PVC

Reduce office waste:
  • Recycle, reuse, recover

  • Reduce paper consumption

  • Eliminate paper in processes

Find out more about waste & packaging

By 2020 we will source 100% of our agricultural raw materials sustainably.

56% of agricultural raw materials sustainably sourced by end 2018

  • Sustainable palm oil

  • Paper and board

  • Soy beans and soy oil

  • Tea

  • Fruit

  • Vegetables

  • Cocoa

  • Sugar

  • Sunflower oil

  • Rapeseed oil

  • Dairy 

  • Fairtrade Ben & Jerry’s

  • Cage-free eggs

  • Increase sustainable sourcing of office materials

Find out more about sustainable sourcing



By 2020 we will enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business.

UN Sustainability Development Plan

We are taking action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals

By 2020 we will advance human rights across our operations and extended supply chain.

61% of procurement spend through suppliers meeting our Responsible Sourcing Policy’s mandatory requirements

We continued to embed human rights, focusing on 8 salient issues in our Human Rights Report

Our Total Recordable Frequency Rate for safety improved to 0.69 per million hours worked

  • Implement UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights 

  • Source 100% of procurement spend in line with our Responsible Sourcing Policy 

  • Create framework for fair compensation

  • Improve employee health, nutrition and well-being

  • Reduce workplace injuries and accidents 

Find out more about fairness in the workplace

By 2020 we will empower 5 million women.

1.85m women enabled to access initiatives aiming to promote their safety, develop their skills or expand their opportunities

  • Build a gender-balanced organisation with a focus on management 

  • Promote safety for women in communities where we operate 

  • Enhance access to training and skills 

  • Expand opportunities in our retail value chain 

Find out more about opportunities for women

By 2020 we will have a positive impact on the lives of 5.5 million people.

746,000 smallholder farmers and 1.73m small-scale retailers enabled to access initiatives aiming to improve agricultural practices or increase incomes

  • Improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers

  • Improve incomes of small-scale retailers

Find out more about inclusive business
Key to our performance
  • Achieved

    This is the number of targets we have achieved

  • On-Plan

    This is the number of targets we are on track to achieve

  • Off-Plan

    This is the number of targets we are currently not on track

  • %

    Of target achieved

    This is the percentage of the target we are on track to achieve

* Our environmental targets are expressed on a ‘per consumer use’ basis. This means a single use, portion or serving of a product.

+ In seven water-scarce countries representing around half the world's population.

Independently assured by PwC

See some of the progress we've made

1.24 billion

We have helped 1.24 billion people improve their health and hygiene.

Over half

Over half of our agricultural raw materials like palm oil, paper and tea are now sustainably sourced.


We have enhanced livelihoods for millions, through initiatives like our smallholder farmer and small-scale retailer programs.

We have long known that growth and sustainability are not in conflict. Each year, we're gathering more evidence of the benefits our USLP is bringing to our business, as well as to society and the environment.

More Growth

Shopping trolly

sustainable living brands

Our own research shows that over half of all consumers already buy or want to buy sustainably. This is why we developed our ‘sustainable living’ brands, which have a clear purpose relating to a social or environmental concern and contribute to the USLP.

We now have 26 sustainable living brands – including Dove, Lipton, Hellmann’s and Seventh Generation. They have continuously outperformed the average growth rate of Unilever.

Lower Costs

diffrent currency

in cumulative energy costs avoided via eco-efficiency since 2018

By cutting waste and reducing the use of energy, raw materials and natural resources, we create efficiencies and cut costs, while becoming less exposed to price volatility.

Improvements in eco-efficiency have contributed to a cumulative cost avoidance of over €600 million in energy since 2008.

Less Risk

Farmer with spade

agricultural raw materials sustainably sourced

Operating sustainably helps us to future-proof our supply chain against the risks associated with climate change and sourcing materials.

By the end of 2018, 56% of our agricultural raw materials were sustainably sourced.

More Trust

Shaking hands

Most desired employer in around 50 countries

Placing sustainability at the heart of our business model helps us stay relevant to consumers and strengthens our relationships with stakeholders.

We are the number one FMCG graduate employer of choice in around 50 countries.

We’re seeing results – and learning lessons

Free to be myself

We’ve had some great results from our Sustainable Living Plan. We know it contributes to business growth as we see consumers choosing our brands with purpose – such as Dove, Hellmann's and Ben & Jerry's.

We’ve also learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work, and we’ll keep making changes to get things right. One of our biggest challenges is our ability to influence change outside our business, where we don’t have direct control.

We are continually looking for new ideas and ways to influence our wider value chain. We know that collaboration with others holds the key to tackling many sustainability challenges and we will be focusing even more on this in the years ahead.

As a business we keep one eye on the future, adapting and evolving to stay one step ahead.

Taking what we’ve learned to be the change we want to see.

Together, we will reinvent how business is done.

Are you with us?

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We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.


Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters or find contacts around the world.

Contact us