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Unilever solar water heaters in South Africa

Challenge

Facilitate wider access to solar water heating.

Problem

In developing economies many people cannot afford basic essentials such as hot water. Unilever is a global personal care company that is committed to doubling in size while reducing its environmental impact. More than half its customers are in developing economies, a proportion that is growing. It is looking at ways to help those new customers be more sustainable from the start – the majority of the company’s carbon footprint is in customers’ use of its products such as heating water for cleaning.

Solution

Unilever is facilitating the provision of solar water heating to low-income homes in South Africa. Partnering with Standard Bank and installer Inti-Solar, and using the power of its Sunlight brand, 8,000 solar water heaters are being installed in the Durban area.

Benefits

Increased sales of Unilever products such as its ‘Sunlight’ soap
Increased health and wellbeing of customers
A share of the carbon credits from the offset emissions – these are reinvested in the project
Reduced carbon footprint for the business while growing market share
Every heater installed equates to a saving on carbon-based fuels or electricity. In South Africa, this equates to about 1.2 tonnes of carbon emissions per home per year.

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