Having just opened a leadership centre in Singapore, the Anglo-Dutch firm has turned its attention to the new plant, operated by its PT Unilever Oleochemical Indonesia subsidiary, hoping it will enable further traceability and segregation of sustainable palm oil to support Unilever's business.
The ground-breaking was conducted in conjunction with the inauguration of the Sei Mangkei Special Economic Zone by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Hatta Rajasa.
"Unilever has established itself as the emerging markets consumer goods company and has set itself an ambitious goal to double the size of its business whilst reducing its environmental impact and increase our positive social impact,” reiterates Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer Unilever Global.
It all follows the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, launched in 2010 with three main targets; to halve the environmental footprint of its products; to source 100 per cent of its agricultural raw materials sustainably and; to help a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.
"In 2010, we set ourselves the target of sourcing 100 per cent of the palm we use sustainably by 2015,” explains Sigismondi.
“We reached this target three years early and then set ourselves a more stretching target - to purchase all palm oil sustainably from certified, traceable sources by 2020. The investment in this new plant will be another step towards achieving this more stretching target.”
The Unilever chief says that the combination of scale and capability of the new facility will help drive the transformation of the industry in parallel with crucial efforts of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
“Without multi-stakeholder efforts within the RSPO, the industry would not have made the strides it has in moving towards becoming a genuinely sustainable one,” he adds.
Unilever Indonesia boss Maurits Lalisang, also adds that the 1.4 trillion Rupiah investment in the plant is part of Unilever's sustainable investment programme in Indonesia which in itself is part of the broader effort to leverage its leading position in developing and emerging markets in Southeast Asia.
“The plant will complement the additional capacity being built in the Home Care, Refreshments and Personal Care categories that was begun 2011."
The PT Unilever Oleochemical Indonesia plant is planned to start commercial production in 2014 and will being the number of factories Unilever operates in Indonesia to ten.