Daily Management Review

Unilever dramatically reduces its environmental footprint by adopting the 4R approach


Unilever’s adoption of the 4R approach has paid handsome dividends in the form of 100% zero waste to landfills. This is not just for one particular factory, or location, but for all of Unilever’s operations all over the world.

With its sales network in more than 190 countries, Unilever, is one of the world’s premier supplier of personal care, food and home needs. With its stated aim to create a better future for everyone everyday. Unilever not only helps people look and feel good about themselves but it also helps them maximize everyday opportunities and potentials so that they get the maximum out of their lives.

Unilever announced as of January 2015, they have achieved 100% zero waste to landfills. This is not just for one particular factory or just for its North American operations, but for all of its global factories all over the world. This is a major milestone in Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.

Unilever established this plan way back in 2010 wherein, it planned for a gradual reduction (50%) of its ecological footprint by 2020. Its North American operation have made steady and continuous progress on this front by the extensive use of partner education and mutual collaboration. By April 2013, all of its North American facilities had achieved Zero Land Fill (ZLF) status. Boosted by this achievement, Unilever surged ahead to expand and to ensure that its global partners and distribution centers also attain ZLF status.
Senior Vice President, Reginaldo Ecclissato, stated:
“Reaching 100% zero waste to landfill on all waste streams at our North America distribution centers is a great example of how we are putting our sustainability strategy into action and reducing our environmental footprint to strengthen our business, as well as our commitment to partnership and collaboration. This achievement builds on the journey we began a few years ago when all of our Unilever-owned factories in North America became zero waste to landfill, but it is far from the end. We will continue to challenge ourselves and our partners in our mission for sustainable growth.”
It has managed to put this feather in its cap by a variety of methods which amongst others, include focusing and fine tuning its inventory management, recycling its packaging, composting and creating animal feed, and by generating biodiesel. By ensuring a ZLF status on all of its global operations, Unilever, has saved more than $1.9 million in 2013 alone.
The four R approach, which provide an ecologically friendly environment so as to manage and minimize waste streams, has played a major role in its achievement of ZLF status. The four R approach confronts a waste stream in a logical and systematic manner so as to reduce, reuse, recover and recycle any waste or non-hazardous material at the source itself. This entails that every material that is used by its factories or in its distribution centers  - from raw materials and packing materials for its factories to food wastages at its cafeterias – falls within the 4R approach.
Unilever’s Vice President of Logistics and Customer Service, Wendy Herrick, clarified:
“The Unilever Supply Chain team worked closely with our distribution centers to ensure each location had the right tools to achieve 100% zero waste to landfill. Sustainability is at the core of our business strategy and this milestone is an important step in reducing our environmental footprint.”