Unilever, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of consumer goods has announced a €1 billion move for fossil-fuel-free products in its lineup by 2030.
The company has said it plans to invest €1 billion into replacing its petroleum-based cleaning products with more environmentally sustainable materials like plant-based chemicals derived from algae for a fossil-fuel-free lineup by the end of the decade.
Unilever has said that the production of its cleaning and laundry products accounts for as much as 46% of the brand’s overall environmental footprint, and aims to replace them with sustainable options that will reduce its environmental impact.
The company expects that replacing these products with a biofuel alternative will reduce Unilever’s overall carbon emissions footprint by 20%.
“People want more affordable, sustainable products that are just as good as conventional ones,” Peter ter Kulve, head of Unilever’s home care division said.
“We must stop pumping carbon from under the ground when there is ample carbon on and above the ground if we can learn to utilise it at scale,” he said, adding that “as an industry, we must break our dependence on fossil fuels, including as a raw material for our products.”
Unilever has previously stated its intention to reach an overall net zero carbon emissions standing by 2039, as part of its Clean Future initiative, which aims to create a deforestation-free supply chain in just three-years time.
The company has said that the €1 billion investment will be directed into financing biotechnology research and development, research into low-carbon chemistry, more water efficient means of production, as well as carbon dioxide utilisation and recycling technologies.
Key amongst its plans to become an environmentally friendly company is to half the rate of virgin plastic production for its products by 2025.
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Unilever has pointed to recent developments in a number areas that are already more environmentally sustainable than current market offerings. The company has said that its collaboration with Slovakian biotechnology company, Evonik.
The two companies were able to produce a new biodegradable and renewable surfactant called rhamnolipids, which has already been put on supermarket shelves in Chile and Vietnam as a dishwashing liquid. In the UK, one of its subsidiaries Persil is set to release a new plant-based stain remover for mass production.
In addition to this, in India, Unilever has sourced its soda ash – a key ingredient in common laundry powers – from its carbon dioxide technology. Unilever has previously announced plans to scale up this production technique.
Unilever has also published what’s known as its ‘carbon rainbow,’ which is aimed at showing its consumers, stakeholders and competitors exactly how the company is diversifying its carbon-based production.
Unilever’s Peter Ter Kulve has said that “diversifying sources of carbon is essential to grow within the limits of our planet… our suppliers and innovation partners play a critical role through this transition. By sharing our Carbon Rainbow model, we are calling on an economy-wide transformation in how we all use carbon,” he said.
According to a report from the BBC “the year, the Carbon Disclosure Project, a global non-profit group, ranked Unilever as one of only seven of 182 major companies to achieve an A rating based on its governance around climate change, water and forests.”