Rob Hamer, VP R&D Discover Foods and Director Unilever R&D Vlaardingen, the Netherlands, was one of the protagonist speakers at “The company’s impact on society” in the Aula Magna Santa Lucia. At the event, he presented the main goals and a short update of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
Here the video of the Speech (from 13:10′ to 19:00′)
What is Unilever Sustainable Living Plan?
It is a comprehensive plan helping to drive sustainable growth. The plan sets out three big goals, not only on halving the environmental footprint of the making and use of our productsbut also at improving people’s health and well-being and enhance people’s livelihoods. These three big goals are supported by specific targets that deal, for example, with minimizing waste to zero and reducing the use of water not only in our factories, but also of the water consumed in the daily use of Unilever products. Unilever publishes a progress report every year that is available on the Unilever website.
What can change in a world where there’s a big amount of waste coming from plastic packaging?
A lot can change if we start designing from the first moment products using circularity principles. So this what we are doing: we are redesigning our packaging to a. minimize the use of materials, b. optimize the ability to recycle and c. use more recycled materials. As a company we need to make sure that nothing goes to waste, including what remains of the packaging. If we consider the food waste, we are also developing and implementing technologies that allow consumers to reduce product leftovers in the package. To give an example: our Hellmann’s mayonnaise bottles now use Easy-Out technology. This has reduced the average amount of leftover mayonnaise in a bottle from 13% to just 3%. This type of food waste is a very valuable one!
An advice to our students
I would recommend looking at things holistically. We must realize that we need to move to a world where it is vital to connect production systems. In this world, a farmer will not only produce a crop for the next step in the food chain, but also biomass for the bio-economy. This will require a new level of connectivity to facilitate new supply and demand combinations. In such a world nothing would have to go to waste. There will always be someone interested in using what you produce. From the point of view of the company it is extremely important to help create the new business models that support these systems.