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One year after Unilever announced its bold ambition to become carbon positive by 2030, it has committed to use biomethane at five of its sites in the UK and Ireland.
GENeco’s deal with Unilever UK & Ireland means that from 1 January 2017, Unilever’s offices in Leatherhead (Surrey) and 100 Victoria Embankment (London), and its food and drink factories in Norwich, Trafford Park and Cork, will use by 10,000 MWh of biomethane to power the sites’ heating and significantly reduce carbon emissions from the sites. With electricity already coming from certified renewable sources, the purchase of a certified supply of bioemethane means that Unilever has become carbon neutral (from an energy perspective) at these five sites.
The biomethane – which is fully traceable and certified – is generated by GENeco’s anaerobic digestion facility in Bristol, which converts inedible food waste and sewage into energy.
This new contract supports the overarching work that Unilever has already undertaken in cutting its greenhouse gas emissions: since the launch of the Sustainable Living Plan in 2010, the global fast moving consumer goods company has cut its manufacturing greenhouse gas footprint by 39% per tonne of production since 2008 – the equivalent of one million tonnes of CO2 per annum.
Sarah Newbitt, VP Supply Chain, Unilever UK & Ireland, said, “One year ago, as world leaders came together for COP21 (the United Nations Climate Change Conference), for the first time Unilever made a time-bound commitment to making our sites carbon positive by 2030. This is a highly ambitious and stretching target which requires us to take small steps and look at all of our sites through a fresh, sustainability lens.
“Biomethane or “green gas” is still in its relative infancy compared to other forms of renewable energy, so our commitment to source 100% renewable energy for five UK & Ireland sites marks a significant step forward, not only in Unilever’s journey, but for the industry. However, we need to continue to go further and we hope to be able to build on this great foundation and eventually use the waste from our own operations as feed stock to truly support a circular economy.”
GENeco has been carbon neutral and zero waste to landfill in its operations since 2013. Biomethane generated at its Bristol site is produced from household food and sewage waste; from here it can be injected into the national gas grid to power thousands of local homes, or used as a vehicle fuel.
GENeco managing director Mohammed Saddiq said: “This deal marks a significant step change in the decarbonisation of UK industry and we are very pleased to be working with Unilever to help in their aims to become carbon positive.
“We believe that in order for the UK to meet the 2020 targets as defined in the Renewable Energy Directive, there will need to be an increasing role for biomethane in the UK’s heat networks.”
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