Unilever has just announced that it has cut its carbon dioxide output by one million tonnes over the past five years – a significant milestone.
Some 211,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction from came from efficiency improvements in its logistics operation. Key to this has ben the creation of the UltraLogistik control tower at Katowice in Poland which enables more efficient coordination of transport movements across road, rail, sea and air.
The other 838,000 tonnes of CO2 saving came from improvements in manufacturing activities. For example, it has been increasing its use of bio-mass boilers which now supply about seven per cent of its renewable energy. It is also making use of combined heat and power. In Europe, using CHP has helped to reduce CO2 by 50,000 tonnes.
But this is not about tree-hugging – the hard-headed reality is that these measures have resulted in real business wins.
Unilever reckons that UltraLogistik has saved it €50m. And with the other measures, the group has avoided almost €100m in energy; €186m in materials; €17m in water; and €10m in waste disposal.
As part of the UltraLogistik transport network Unilever is creating regional distribution hubs, which it says will improve operational efficiency and reduce distance travelled by 110 million miles in Europe alone. Not surprisingly, Unilever is now rolling out the UltraLogistik model globally.
There is nothing new in pointing out that managing resources more effectively can save money. But there are still plenty of people who view this in purely tactical terms. What Unilever highlights is the value of incorporating these environmental measure into the corporate strategy.