2 June 2020
Author: Rachael Stott and Lara Piras
It’s not only luxury brands cracking down on the impact of their operations. So too are FMCG giants such as Unilever, which has announced the company could sell off brands such as Marmite and Magnum that harm the planet through their production or negatively impact society, regardless of whether they are profitable.
A powerful conglomerate like Unilever, the parent company of more than 400 household brands, making such bold business decisions demonstrates the fundamental importance of having eco-initiatives in place to futureproof success. As Alan Jope, its CEO, explains: ‘Principles are only principles if they cost you something.’
He adds: ‘Can these brands figure out how to make society or the planet better in a way that lasts for decades?’, suggesting that brands void of strong and effective sustainable plans could soon feel irrelevant as a result.
Now, Unilever will focus on brands such as Dove, Hellmann’s and Sunsilk, brands that unsurprisingly have eco-friendly strategies already in place, which align with Unilever’s holistic sustainability goals, which include reducing environmental impact by half by 2030. (source: Unilever Sustainable Living). In fact, in summer of 2019, the company announced that its purpose-led, sustainable living brands are growing 69% faster than the rest of the business and delivering 75% of the company’s growth.
Beyond fashion and FMCG, the footwear industry is also in the spotlight, emitting around 700m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year (source: Quantis). This is why sneaker brand Allbirds is launching a Carbon Fund and self-imposing a carbon tax on the company. The fund will ensure the brand is carbon neutral by paying for initiatives such as rainforest conservation and supporting wind farms to produce renewable energy. Its self-imposed tax is calculated via an intricate formula that even accounts for the smaller details of its operations. For example, it takes into consideration how much carbon is created farming the sheep that provide the wool for its shoes, as well as the transport along its supply chains, and energy consumption at Allbirds’ headquarters.
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