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Hindustan Unilever switches from coal to biomass and biofuels across its operations

In India, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), a subsidiary of global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) major Unilever plc, has announced that it has eliminated coal usage across its operations, replacing it with renewable alternatives such as biomass and biodiesel. To facilitate this, HUL has collaborated with biomass suppliers, and local farmers to ensure a sustainable supply of green fuel and made the necessary changes for the transition in its coal-fired boilers.

Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) has eliminated coal usage across its operations in India, replacing it with renewable alternatives such as biomass and biodiesel (photo courtesy HUL).

According to a statement, the shift from coal to renewable energy sources (RES) has also resulted in savings for the company. For example, one of HUL’s largest Home Care plants found innovative solutions to eliminate coal usage, which has helped achieve INR 35 million (≈ US$ 466 757) in fuel savings whilst reducing 400 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and increasing fuel efficiency as well.

This is a milestone achievement in our Compass journey and our commitment towards achieving zero emissions in our operations by 2030. As a company, we have always strived to be people and planet positive and firmly believe that responsible business is the only way forward, said Sanjiv Mehta Chairman and Managing Director, HUL.

The journey towards zero coal had started over five years ago, with Unilever committing to eliminating coal across its manufacturing operations by 2020. The company achieved its goals as committed and has now successfully transitioned its three Nutrition factories acquired as part of the GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSK CH) merger in April 2020, to zero coal.

The newly acquired Nutrition manufacturing units had boilers running on coal which were converted into biomass/biodiesel boilers. HUL’s manufacturing units have already been operating with 100 percent renewable grid electricity since 2019 through on-site solar generation, offsite solar, and wind generation, and hydro-based grid power purchase.

The Company’s food & refreshment manufacturing unit in Nashik has onboarded three offsite wind turbine generators for captive consumption in addition to the on-site solar photovoltaic (PV) plant.

The move from coal to green fuel shall provide an impetus to HUL’s endeavor to ensure 100 percent of energy across its operations comes from RES, and that the company will directly support the generation of more renewable energy than it consumes.

I’m delighted that we could move our new factories from our GSK acquisition into renewable energy usage quickly. The impact of this transition not only increases HUL’s green footprint but also improves the quality of air around its factories and enhances the income of farmers through the buying of biomass, said Willem Uijen, Executive Director Supply Chain, HUL.

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