Unilever Looks to Their Network to Meet Sustainability Goals

In 2010, Unilever set out an ambitious company goal with widespread implications for their company and for their customers. The goal was to implement the Unilever Sustainable Living plan – a ten year voyage to creating a responsible company that is working to improve the world. The goal is three-pronged with the company looking to improve health and well-being throughout their organization and for their customers, reducing the environmental impact of their operations, and enhancing the livelihoods.

The program has enjoyed some measure of success so far in its first year and a half, estimating that Unilever has

  • 24% of agricultural raw materials sustainably sourced
  • 64% of palm oil now sourced sustainably
  • 48 million people reached with Lifebuoy soap handwashing programs
  • 100% of electricity purchased in Europe is now from renewable sources
  • Over 90% of leading spreads contain less than 1/3 saturated fat
  • Among many other milestones.

You can find out more about the program and its progress here.

It’s a lofty goal and one that Unilever has been praised for and is hopefully reflective of a larger-scale movement towards a sustainable future in other leading brands as well.

Most interestingly, though, they are now reaching out to the public for help in meeting some of those goals over this ten-year period, a wide-cast net for their network that could have huge ramifications for some of the major products that we consume – anything from new ideas on how to preserve food naturally to ways to aid consumers in making their own sustainable decisions.

Anyone wishing to contribute to such large-scale change first visits the Challenges and Wants site to see if there is anything that they might be able to contribute to. To submit an idea, the user is redirected to the third-party crowdsourcing partner (Yet2.com) where anyone can fill out the information form and submit their suggestion.

There’s no incentive simply to submit, other than that if Unilever reviews the idea, likes it and decides to implement, they will work to build a contract with the suggester on a case by case basis (product supply, license, technology acquisition, etc.).

In an already bold campaign, it’s good to see them so boldy looking to broaden their own horizons by reaching out to their network.

What might you suggest to Unilever? What other companies are actively working to build sustainable business models?

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