FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is taking steps to collectively and positively impact climate change.
Rapidly rising product level consumption across the world is currently having a huge impact on the environment and the greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. By the end of this century, global temperatures will increase by over 4°C since pre-industrial levels.
While building brand loyalty and providing sustainable options, the company is constantly rethinking and addressing consumer concerns.
Hindustan Unilever climate goals include —
- Net zero emissions from all our products (from sourcing to the point of sale) by 2039.
- Halve greenhouse gas impact of our products across the lifecycle by 2030.
- Zero emissions in our operations by 2030.
- Replace fossil-fuel-derived carbon with renewable or recycled carbon in all our cleaning and laundry products by 2030.
- Share the carbon footprint of every product we sell.
Decarbonizing its business
Over the years, there has been a rising demand for renewable electricity, and the company is committed to increasing its availability at lower prices. Investing in new technologies, switching to renewable sources, and innovating to transform its factory operations, HUL is focused on improving the efficiency of reducing emissions from the transportation of its products and freezers across retail stores.
Utilizing 100% renewable power
In an attempt to switch to alternative energy such as wind, biomass, solar, Hindustan Unilever reduced its carbon dioxide emissions per ton by 91% in 2020 against the 2008 baseline. This was achieved through IREC purchase for grid electricity and solar capacity enhancement at the company’s Nashik, Chiplun, Khamgaon, DDF, Rajpura, Hosur factories.
“We lowered our overall energy footprint across factories by installing various energy-saving capital projects that include installing energy-efficient pumps, VVVFDs (variable voltage, variable frequency drives), and condensate recoveries in plants. We also use air compressor heat recovery systems and steam expanders,” the company said.
Currently, 100% of the electricity is derived from renewable sources. Hindustan Unilever eliminated coal in its Bhuj, Garden Reach, and Orai factories in 2020. Only the newly acquired nutrition units – Sonipat, Rajahmundry, and Nabha, use coal now. It aims to eliminate coal in these three units during 2021.
Expanding renewable energy footprint
In areas where the company does not produce its own renewable electricity, it has put in place direct purchase agreements with small-scale hydropower schemes and large-scale hydro, wind, solar and geothermal installations.
“The share of renewable energy increased to 79% in our manufacturing units. Driven to make an environmentally-friendly choice, we continue to use biomass briquettes in our boilers at Haridwar, Bhuj, Chiplun, Dapada, Haldia, Nashik,” Hindustan Unilever said.
“We have also started using biofuel instead of fossil fuel in our units at Amli and Hosur; further expanding our renewable energy footprint by harnessing solar energy by on-site or off-site solar panels installation and via power purchase agreement (PPA model).”
Leaner, greener, cleaner workspaces
To further reduce energy usage by installing energy AC systems and air handling devices, Hindustan Unilever uses motion sensor lighting and has installed LED lights in its offices. Such programs have contributed to reducing the expense of power and operating at offices in an environment-friendly manner, it said. These initiatives have also made it possible for the company to achieve 100% renewable electricity across all offices in India.
Efficient transport that helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Working towards using alternative fuel, Hindustan Unilever is globally exploring the option of liquefied natural gas. However, a lack of well-equipped fueling acts as an obstacle during long-distance journeys. In India, it uses compressed natural gas as an alternative to diesel.
The CO2 emissions from its logistics network have been reduced by over 60% since 2010. Its ‘Load More Travel Less’ strategy clubbed with increased efficiency of processes, along with a reduction in the count of trucks by using bigger truck types and reduction in distance traveled, have helped reduce CO2 emissions.
Climate-friendly refrigeration options
Hindustan Unilever has continued its drive to roll out environment-friendly freezer cabinets that use hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants instead of Hydrofluorocarbons refrigerants. There are currently over 1,38,720 freezers with HC technology in its fleet in India.
“To improve the efficiency of the freezers that we purchase, we have been collaborating with manufacturers to find renewable energy power. In India, we have completed trials of mobile solar-powered ice cream cabinets, and we are also in the pursuit of developing solar-powered static freezers,” it said.
Creating net zero-carbon products
Maximizing its knowledge and R&D, the company strives to provide consumers with sustainable products that help reduce carbon footprint. It is also constantly striving to radically reduce GHG impact at every step – be it across manufacturing, production, packaging, supply chain, or distribution of products.
“We have reduced CO2 emissions per ton of our production by 91% compared to our 2008 baseline. This significant reduction has been achieved through coal elimination in our sites (excluding new acquisition), reduction in total energy footprint across factories by implementing energy-efficient projects and optimizing baseload, expansion of renewable energy footprint (solar, wind) in our sites, replacing fossil fuel by green fuel and IREC purchase for grid electricity. We are also working on water-saving formulations for Rin laundry powders and bars that reduce the water needed for rinsing in every consumer use,” it said.