Tomorrow, on the last day of the Green Week Circular Economy, Resource Efficiency & Waste conference , the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), Unilever and WWF will host a debate on sustainable sourcing, to identify solutions to the growing demand for natural resources and measures to mitigate its impact worldwide on the environment, business, the economy and people.
With representatives from the industry sector, the EU institutions and NGOs, ‘100% sustainably sourced – how to make it happen?’ will present the inside track on how the EU can help businesses source resources better and more sustainably to contribute to a circular economy. It aims to recognise the environmental and business case for sustainable sourcing, raise awareness about the challenges in the sourcing of sustainable commodities and products and establish the roles for market tools and policy engagement.
As we look ahead to 2050, questions emerge of how we will feed, house, clothe and transport two billion more people and still maintain a living planet. The price we pay for natural resources and raw materials found in products and the long-term access to them hangs in the balance. Our shared imperative is ensuring that the raw materials used in these products are sustainably sourced, reducing their negative impacts on people and the planet.
“We all need food and basic consumer products. And we all need a healthy planet. Nobody can solve these challenges alone, but together we can identify and pursue strategies to do more with less on our finite planet”, say ACE, Unilever and WWF.
Our economies still rely on a system where the existing business model favours the linear (take-make-use-discard) model of production and consumption. But, already today, increasing efficiency can be profitable for companies and the economy. Sustainable sourcing which respects the planets limits is not only key to protecting nature and reducing long-term risk for companies, it is also a way to build a stronger economy.
ACE, Unilever and WWF ask the EU to develop ambitious principles and standards for sustainable sourcing. Existing voluntary schemes with high environmental and social standards could serve as a good basis for the development of credible standards; and encourage transparency of sourcing practices by companies operating on the EU market.
The three organisations also ask the EU to use its position as one of the largest markets in the world to promote policies and strategies that drive a sustainable management of natural resources worldwide. It should also support the sustainable and transparent use and trade of resources and products by promoting responsible consumption.
One way to achieve this is through sustainable sourcing as a prerequisite to building a resource efficient Europe, one priority within the context of the Resource Efficiency pillar of the EU2020 strategy - and also a central tenet in the thinking about Circular Economy on which a Commission communication is expected soon .
Tony Long, Director of WWF European Policy Office, said:
“Today in Europe we are consuming the equivalent of 2.8 planets worth of natural resources and yet we only have one planet. We are already in serious resource debt. We therefore need the EU to drive the change to a sustainable management of our planet’s resources before nature suffers further and people, businesses and the economy are impacted by increasing prices of raw materials due to resource scarcity”.
Katarina Molin, Director General of ACE, said:
““Sustainable sourcing of raw materials is a key component of the circular economy. ACE members have demonstrated through their global voluntary commitment for a full traceability of the fibers used in beverage carton production that sustainable sourcing can make perfect business sense. We are aware that this is an early stage in the evolution of the concept of sustainable sourcing and that much has still to be understood better but we believe there is a need to initiate a broader EU policy dialogue on this important policy topic, which should play a part in the future development of EU resource policies towards 2020.”
Christiaan Prins, Director of European External Affairs of Unilever, said:
“Unilever is committed to source 100% of its raw materials sustainably by 2020. By end last year 48% of our agricultural raw materials were sustainably sourced and we had engaged with 570,000 smallholder farmers. Good progress, but more to do. The industry needs to explore with other stakeholders how sustainably sourced materials can become the market standard, rather than the niche they currently are. Adequate legislation, in support of sustainable production and consumption, has an important role to play”.
ACE, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, provides a European platform for beverage carton manufacturers and their paperboard suppliers to benchmark and profile cartons as renewable, recyclable and low carbon packaging solutions. Engaging with stakeholders and partners seeking high environmental stewardship, it contributes expertise to EU policy, legislation and standard-setting.
ACE members include beverage carton producers Elopak, SIG Combibloc and Tetra Pak; they develop, manufacture and market systems for the packaging and distribution of food, and produce packaging material at 22 plants in Europe. ACE also includes Stora Enso and BillerudKorsnäs, the leading European paperboard suppliers for the beverage carton industry. Worldwide, these five companies employ approximately 30,000 people in their beverage carton businesses.
Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries. We work with 174,000 colleagues around the world and generated annual sales of €49.8 billion in 2013. Over half of our company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (57% in 2013). Working to create a better future every day, we help people feel good, look good and get more out of life. Our portfolio includes some of the world’s best known brands, 14 of which - Knorr, Persil / Omo, Dove, Sunsilk, Hellmann’s, Surf, Lipton, Rexona / Sure, Wall’s ice cream, Lux, Flora / Becel, Rama / Blue Band, Magnum and Axe / Lynx - now generate a turnover of €1 billion or more.
Our ambition is to double the size of our business, whilst reducing our overall environmental footprint (including sourcing, consumer use and disposal) and increasing our positive social impact. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being, sourcing all our agricultural raw materials sustainably by 2020, and decoupling our growth from our environmental impact. Supporting our three big goals, we have defined nine commitments, underpinned by targets encompassing social, environmental and economic areas. See more on the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/.
Unilever has been recognised in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes for 14 consecutive years. We are included in the FTSE4Good Index Series and attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. Unilever has been named sector leader of the CDP’s Forests programme for three consecutive years, and in 2014 led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey - for the fourth year running. Unilever was named LinkedIn’s third most sought-after employer worldwide in 2013.
For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com
WWF is one of the worlds’ largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
Note to the editors:
 The 2014 edition of Green Week, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy, takes place from 3 to 5 June in Brussels. The theme is Circular Economy, Resource Efficiency & Waste. http://www.greenweek2014.eu/index.html
 EC Communication on Circular Economy is expected in May – June 2014. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-14-300_en.htm
Published on 04 June 2014