All Unilever operations now run on 100% renewable electricity
British-Dutch manufacturing giant Unilever has made the switch to 100% renewable grid electricity for its entire value chain: factories, offices, R&D facilities, data centres, warehouses and distribution centres.
The firm completed the shift on 1 January 2020, and has announced since that it supplements grid power with on-site solar installations at sites across 23 countries. In a 4 February statement, Unilever said it will now turn its attention to sourcing the entirety of its energy needs from renewable sources. It added in the same statement that 24 of its sites around the world are already 100% carbon neutral, with the goal of company-wide carbon neutrality by 2030.
“Through our partnership with Unilever, we will potentially be generating about three million units of energy every year. That’s the equivalent of planting nearly five thousand trees,” said Anuvrat Joshi, Business Development Director at Cleantech Solar, one of Unilever's Indian power suppliers.
Unilever has in recent times positioned itself as a sustainability champion. Last June, the firm announced that 75% of its overall turnover growth in 2018 came from its ‘Sustainable Living’ brands (including Dove, Persil, SUre, Hellmann’s and more), highlighting the prescience of its strategy in the area.
Outside its energy strategy, the company announced in October that it is undertaking a rigorous new approach to its packaging methods in a bid to develop a circular economy.
“Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment. We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle,” said Alan Jope, CEO at Unilever, in the firm’s press release at the time.
“Our starting point has to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use, and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources. We are also committed to ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
Toyota unveils electric van and Volvo opens fuel cell lab
Toyota is launching its first zero emission battery electric vehicle, the Proace Electric medium-duty panel van, across Europe.
The model, which offers a choice of 50 or 75kWh lithium-ion batteries with range of up to 205 miles, is being rolled out in the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
At present, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs, including battery electric vehicles) account for only a fraction – around 1.8 per cent – of new light commercial van sales in the UK, but a number of factors are accelerating demand for practical alternatives to vans with conventional internal combustion engines.
Low and zero emission zones are coming into force to reduce local pollution and improve air quality in urban centres, at the same time as rapid growth in ecommerce is generating more day-to-day delivery traffic.
Meanwhile the opening of Volvo's first dedicated fuel cell test lab in Volvo Group, marks a significant milestone in the manufacturer’s ambition to be fossil-free by 2040.
Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with the resulting chemical reaction producing electricity. The process is completely emission-free, with water vapour being the only by-product.
Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE, says fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides another vital tool in its work to reach targets.
"The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing," he said.
The Fuel Cell Test Lab is a demonstration of the same dedication to hydrogen fuel cell technology, as the recent launch of cell centric, a joint venture by Volvo Group and Daimler Truck to accelerate the development, production and commercialization of fuel cell solutions within long-haul trucking and beyond. Both form a key part of the Group’s overall ambition to be 100% fossil free by 2040.