By  on November 17, 2010

LONDON — Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch parent of brands including Dove, Sunsilk and Vaseline, is going a brighter shade of green.

The 40 billion euro, or $54.4 billion, company has already said it is working to reduce its carbon footprint, and on Monday unveiled a “sustainable living plan,” with the goal of halving its environmental impact and doubling sales by 2020.

“We have ambitious plans to grow the company,” stated chief executive officer Paul Polman. “But growth at any price is not viable. We have to develop new ways of doing business which will ensure that our growth does not come at the expense of the world’s diminishing natural resources.”

He added that pursuing environmentally friendly goals provides opportunities for sustainable growth. “It creates preference for our brands, builds business with our retail customers, drives our innovation, grows our markets and, in many cases, generates cost savings,” he said.

The ambitious plan sets out more than 50 social, economic and environmental targets, including cutting in half the greenhouse gas impact of all products; the waste associated with the products’ disposal, and the water associated with consumer use of Unilever’s detergents.

The company has also vowed — by 2020 at the latest — to source all of its agricultural raw materials sustainably and involve 500,000 small-scale farmers and distributors in the supply chain.

Polman said the company would work in partnership with customers, suppliers, governments and nongovernmental organizations to achieve its goals.

Unilever joins other British companies, such as Burberry Group plc and Marks and Spencer Group plc, which in recent years have undertaken steps to reduce their carbon footprints by changing the way they ship merchandise, recycle waste and promote their products.

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