Unilever Protects Wildlife Habitat through RSB Certification

from Wildlife Promise

Last week, Unilever announced that any product certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) will be considered to be “sustainably sourced” according to their corporate standards. This step helps to simplify the assessment of sustainability of Unilever’s supply chain and reduces the direct costs of sustainable sourcing. Through their sustainability sourcing with RSB’s eco-label, Unilever aims to both protect wildlife habitat and reduce carbon pollution.

Cover Photo: A jaguar, which is an example of an animal whose habitat is spared by sustainable sourcing of raw materials.

The jaguar is an example of an animal whose habitat is spared by sustainable sourcing of raw materials. Photo by US FWS.

Unilever is one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, boasting recognizable brands such as Dove personal care products, Promise Margarine, Lipton Tea and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

A jar made of bioplastic, which is a product that could be RSB certified and recognized as sustainable by Unilever

A jar made of bioplastic, which is a product that could be RSB certified and recognized as sustainable by Unilever. © Wikicommons

NWF was a founding partner of the RSB and NWF’s Barbara Bramble continues to chair the Board of Directors of the Roundtable. RSB is a multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together business, industry, government and non-profit organizations to develop and maintain sustainability “standards” for biofuels and biomaterials such as bio-plastics and fibers. These standards cover a wide breadth of issues – biodiversity conservation, greenhouse gas emission reductions, providing good labor conditions and more. Expertly trained third party auditors then assess the applicant’s operation and decide whether it meets the standards – and if so, the certificate is issued.

Large companies such as Unilever have supply chains that are global and diverse in nature, making it extremely difficult to account for the raw materials that end up in a final product. All too often, these materials may come from areas that were recently deforested to make way for agricultural land, for example soy and palm oil plantations, or cattle pasture.  By adopting RSB certification as an assurance of sustainability, Unilever supports a growing market for biofuels and biomaterials that live up to strong and globally recognized environmental and social standards.  RSB certification also eliminates the need for Unilever to assess the sustainability of these products on their own, and therefore reduces costs.

Unilever recently adopted a “Sustainable Living Plan” to assess the sustainability of their own supply chains; now they are looking not just at their environmental impact, but also the impacts of their products on local communities’ health and general livelihoods.

NWF’s Tropical Forests and Agriculture team works with multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the RSB, to reduce deforestation from large-scale commodity agriculture for corporate supply chains.