Water Use

Lady washing with comfort

Reducing water use

2.8 billion people live in water-stressed regions today. This number is estimated to increase to 4 billion — half the world’s population — by 2025. The consequences for food security, health and living conditions are substantial.

At Unilever we see consequences for our business too. We are reliant on sufficient water to irrigate the crops we need. Even more significantly, the product categories in which Unilever operates account for more than 90% of domestic water use, from washing dishes to cleaning hair, skin and clothes.

So, as water becomes less available, people will start to make trade-offs about which tasks will get their scarce ration of water. This will limit the use of our products and our future growth, especially in developing markets.

As part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan we have a bold reduction goal to halve the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020.

Our water strategy

Our approach covers reducing water in agriculture, manufacturing and the water associated with consumer use.

Woman washing clothes with Omo

Our water strategy

Targets & performance

Halving the water associated with the consumer use of our products by 2020.

Workers in a factory

Targets & performance

We are focusing our expertise and resources on creating innovations and campaigns which will meet the water needs of lower-income, urban consumers in developing countries in particular.

We continue to be very active in working with suppliers to reduce the water used to grow our crops in water-scarce countries and reducing water in our own factories.

Our water footprint

Domestic water use makes up the majority of our wider water footprint.

Woman washing hair in shower

Our water footprint

Water use by consumers

Laundry, skin and hair products account for over three quarters of our water footprint.

Water use by consumers

Water use in agriculture

Good water management is one of our 11 key sustainable farming practice indicators.

Farmer checking tomato crop

Water use in agriculture