Unilever, a leading manufacturer of cleaning and laundry products is studying an ambitious environmental strategy that includes new investments and industrial processes. The purpose of this strategy is to eliminate fossil fuel-based components by 2030.
The company’s decision is aimed at “transforming the sustainability of global cleaning and laundry brands, including Omo (Persil), Sunlight, Cif, and Domestos.”
Unilever is set to invest $1.2 billion in the short and long term to replace oil in its production process. In detail, it will use ingredients derived from wood or microbial fermentation, even from carbon recycled from other industries.
In this sense, the investments are aimed at helping providers adopt new technologies and mechanisms that eliminate the use of hydrocarbons in the production of cleaning products.
Unilever to drop fossil fuels
The household goods conglomerate (food, beverages, home, personal and animal care) took the first step in June. It established a clear goal to cut all CO2 emissions derived from its operations and that of its suppliers by 2039.
Most household cleaning products today contain chemical products made from fossil fuel raw materials, a source of non-renewable carbon.
Unilever’s decision to change to renewable or recycled carbon sources is deliberate. The first initiative at its scale, Clean Future, is a fundamental step toward a commitment to making products with net zero emissions by 2039.
Chemicals used in Unilever’s cleaning and laundry products make up the largest proportion of its carbon footprint (46%) throughout its life cycle. Thus, it is estimated that by moving away from chemicals derived from fuels fossils in product formulations, Unilever will unlock novel ways to reduce the carbon footprint of some of the cleaning and laundry brands. The hope is that this initiative alone will reduce the carbon footprint of product formulas by up to 20%.
Zero carbon footprint
Peter ter Kulve, Unilever’s President of Home Care, explains: “Clean Future is our vision to radically overhaul our business. As an industry, we must break our dependence on fossil fuels, including as a raw material for our products. We must stop pumping carbon from under the ground.”
Unilever has promoted several innovations that contribute to this commitment. For instance, in Argentina it presented the first liquid soap, of the Ala & Skip brands, with diluting technology. It has a 100% recyclable container made with recycled plastic and has a biodegradable agent.
“Unilever’s transition to using renewable or recycled carbon sources is part of a global vision for the company. This measure is part of a reconversion of our brands as well as out brands, based on the new commitments to climate and nature,” said Karen Vizental, VP of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at Unilever Latin America.
Vizental continued: “The moment to act has arrived. That is why we set more ambitious goals to achieve a zero carbon footprint in all our products by 2039. We are convinced that business strategy and sustainability must be integrated. This announcement is one more proof of that.”
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