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Corporate Supply Chain and Sourcing, Global

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Unilever is serious about its commitment to producing more sustainable products, growing production while reducing its negative impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, and other benefits from ecosystems. NatCap worked collaboratively with Unilever experts to develop a new repeatable, quantitative methodology for evaluating the sustainability of bio-plastic sources for a range of packaging and other product-related materials. Project partners include NatCap at Stanford and Unilever Corporation. Funding: Unilever Corporation

The Challenge

The relative ecosystem (carbon, biodiversity, water, etc.) benefits of alternative sources of packaging materials (e.g., bio-plastics, petroleum-based) are complex to evaluate for a company with global options. Before this collaboration, standard life cycle analyses (LCA) used to guid procurement decisions did not adequately account for spatial variation in ecosystem impacts and benefits from alternative sourcing areas and crops.

The Solution

NatCap worked with Unilever to co-develop a new spatial methodology for their standard life cycle analysis (LCA) used in procurement decisions for supply chains. NatCap also developed a simple software tool and trained Unilever employees in using the tool, which they are now doing on an on-going basis. The InVEST carbon, water yield, sediment delivery ratio and nutrient delivery ratio models were used to evaluate net impacts of sugarcane and maize biofeedstock sources in a standard and new spatial LCA analysis.

Project Category: Standards For Private Sector