Unilever the second-biggest producer of consumer goods in the world, has unveiled a new business model that puts sustainability at the heart of its global operations and intends to decouple growth from the group's environmental aims.
Unilever says it will halve the environmental impact of its products while doubling sales over the next 10 years. It has also pledged to source 100% of its agricultural supplies from sustainable sources and to improve the health and well-being of one billion people across the world.
It will also cut in salt, saturated fats, sugar and calories in its food products and link more than 500,000 smallholder farmers and small scale distributors in developing countries to its supply chain. "More than two thirds of greenhouse emissions and half the water in Unilever products' lifecycle come from consumer use," said the company, "so this is a commitment on an unprecedented scale."
Chief executive Paul Polman said the new model was "the only way to do business long term".
He added that he saw no conflict between sustainable consumption and business growth.
"Quite the opposite, in fact. There is a compelling case for sustainable growth - retailers and consumers demand it and it saves us money."