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Unilever Company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of consumer goods. The company is operational in over 151 countries in the world with its headquarters situated in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, employing over 265,000 people and earns annual revenue of around $57 billion (CIPEC, 2008). The company’s plant located in Ontario, Canada is called Unilever Rexdale. The plant was built in the 1960s and produces around 85,000 tonnes of margarine annually. However, due to the rising energy costs, the company has embarked on a program since 1999 called the watching watts program which aims at improving e energy efficiency to minimize costs. This paper will critically analyze this program and its success.
The watching watt program
Since 1999, Unilever Canada has improved its energy efficiency through a series of programs saving the company $4.1 million and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 23,000 tonnes annually (Natural resources of Canada, 2005). These bright ideas came from the employees of the company through a program known as the watching watt program. Of the 220 ideas submitted by the employees, 120 have been converted into viable projects which have saved the company a lot of money in energy costs. Participation of the employees in the program was a major factor in the success of the program since the employees felt appreciated by the company. Due to its success, the company has been regarded as being among the best energy-saving and Eco-friendly companies in the world.
The first project the plant embarked on in 1999 was the heat recovery project. This project aimed to minimize the amount of heat lost by the boiler by fitting it with condensing economizer that recovered heat and used it to pre-heat the water which was fed to the boiler. The approximate cost of the project was about $500,000 but it saves the company $378,000 annually thus only took the company slightly over a year to recover (GTAA, 2007).
The company also upgraded its lighting system by switching from T-12 fluorescent tubes to T-8 which use less energy and have a better color perception. Motion sensors were also installed in stores, private offices and boardrooms to avoid around the clock lighting. The cost of these installations was $4,000 and saves the company $3,900 annually (GTAA, 2007).
In 2005 the company commenced using wastewater to feed the boiler instead of the municipal water. This reduced the use of natural gas by $250,000 and reduction of municipal water consumption by 25 million gallons per year (Cascades Inc., 2008). As there was a reduction in the costs of treating water and chemicals. Being an eco-friendly company, Unilever Canada started to recycle scrap vegetable oil and used it as a source of renewable energy to generate heat and steam from the boiler. This action reduced the use of fossil fuel hence minimized carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere and also reduced the level of solid waste in the company.
The watching watt program has been a success making Unilever Canada save millions of dollars in energy costs. The program has also been friendly to the environment since it has led to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere and improved waste disposal through the recycling of scrap vegetable oil that is used as a biofuel for the boiler. As a result, Unilever Canada is viewed as one of the most energy-efficient companies in the world.
Cascades Inc. (2008). Success Stories: Annual Report. Web.
CIPEC. (2008). Unilever Canada. Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation. Web.
GTAA. (2007). Unilever Corporate Sustainability. Web.
Natural resources of Canada. (2005). Watching Watts Spreads Energy Efficiency at Unilever Margarine Plant. Web.