Universal Robina Corporation (URC), one of the Philippines’ largest food and beverage companies, is setting even more ambitious goals for its human resources, operations, products, and processes, as it releases its latest Sustainability Report.
The company is looking at reducing the amount of energy and water it uses to manufacture its products by 30 percent against its 2020 baseline, as well as promoting responsible sourcing of key ingredients like palm oil, potatoes, and coffee beans.
It is also aiming to achieve plastic neutrality through plastic waste collection, recovery and diversion initiatives, as well as collaborative projects on waste management that include community engagement and linking with local recyclers.
URC is looking at multi-stakeholder partnerships to tackle this immense plastics challenge. It has recently been named the regional co-chair for the Alliance to End the Plastics Waste, an industry-founded non-profit organization that promotes solutions that reduce and avoid environmental pollution from plastic waste.
URC is likewise an investor and strategic partner of Planet First, a purpose-led European growth investment platform dedicated to developing solutions to address sustainability challenges.
For People and Communities, URC is committed to Safety and to Growing its Talent by bringing down to zero its lost-time injury frequency rate, providing at least 24 training hours for each employee every year, and raising by 10 percent annually the number of its volunteers and beneficiaries leading the community.
“Through efficient management of resources and a consistent commitment to always give back, we aim to make lasting concrete changes on an institutional level, in a way that affects all operations and demonstrates our resolve as a world-class manufacturer,” said Irwin Lee, URC president and CEO.
Lee said URC has been able to polish its plans and refresh its targets ever since it released its first sustainability report in 2018.
Not even the COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the company’s march towards its 2030 goals, he said.
“In many ways, 2021 presented a rehash of 2020’s challenges, with various crises putting our economy and the world climate on the ropes,” said Lee.
He added: “The difference now, aside from an increased sense of urgency, is a greater amount of experience with which URC can face the odds — and we are now setting our sights on greater ambitions towards more sustainable futures.”
URC has been pivoting toward making renewable energy take up a bigger share in its power use.
It has been installing solar panels at several of its facilities in the Philippines and in its manufacturing hubs in Thailand and Vietnam.
In 2021, URC generated a total of 12,500 GJ of energy from its solar power projects in its BCF Canlubang and BCF Thailand facilities.
It continues to use manure, agricultural and food waste, and other organic materials as a renewable energy source.
The company has also ramped up its community support specifically in the areas of livelihood, sustainable farming, food availability, and security.
URC launched its Sustainable Potato Program in 2019, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture.
Projects such as the Agro-Industrial Group’s Kabalikat Village Hub, Flour Division’s Flourish Pilipinas, Sugar & Renewables Division’s Project SALIG, and its Sustainable Potato Program, are among URC’s initiatives toward building a sustainability roadmap that includes responsible sourcing, production, and consumption; and developing the capabilities of communities for better livelihood.
URC has distributed more than 365 tons of Granola potato seeds to 700 farmers from selected cooperatives in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Davao del Sur, and Bukidnon. To date, these farmer cooperatives have generated a total of Php350 million in net income.
“In the coming years, we will continue to build upon our heritage of sustainable success through the programs and targets laid out in this sustainability report: from reducing our environmental impact all the way to achieving 100-percent quality and food safety certifications for our products,” said Lee.
URC’s sustainability report can be viewed here.