GLOBAL: Unilever, the consumer goods giant, launched its Sustainable Living Plan in 2010 and eight years later it appears that its global social and environmental initiative is also delivering solid commercial benefits.

The Anglo-Dutch company announced last week that its 26 sustainable living brands grew 46% faster than the rest of the business in 2017 and they also delivered 70% of its overall turnover growth.

These brands, which include Dove, Hellmann’s, Knorr, Lipton and PG Tips, are said to have outperformed the average rate of growth at Unilever over the past four years.

And they have been joined by six more brands, up from 18 in 2016, including such well-known names as Sunlight, Sunsilk, Vaseline and Wall’s.

Unilever also revealed that it is “on track” to meet around 80% its commitments around sustainability, including improving health and wellbeing for one billion people, reducing environmental impact by half and enhancing livelihoods for its employees, suppliers and retailers.

“We have made great strides in meeting many of the ambitious targets we set ourselves and the fact that our sustainable living brands are continuing to deliver growth shows that this is a business model that works,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever.

“We also want to be transparent about how much more there is still to do. This is critical because transparency is what gives our business its most important asset – trust,” he added.

“At a time when there is a crisis of trust in many institutions across the world, there has never been a more important time for business to play a leading role in restoring it.”

Unilever, which is asking its more than 40,000 employees to provide feedback about the best areas to focus on next, also outlined some success stories from around the world.

For example, by the end of 2017, Unilever’s programmes on sanitation had reached 601 million people, including 426 million people reached by Lifebuoy soap’s handwashing programme alone.

At the same time, the company reported that 109 of its manufacturing sites across 36 countries are using 100% renewable energy, while 56% of its agricultural raw materials are now sustainably sourced.

Sourced from Unilever; additional content by WARC staff