© Christian Lohfink/Upfront
© Christian Lohfink/Upfront
Innovation

Unilever enlists Evonik in its efforts to become greener

Unilever intends to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in its household cleaning products by 2030—in part with Evonik's help.

The Dutch-British Unilever Group is one of the world’s largest producers of consumer goods. As the company has now made public, it views collaboration with Evonik and its biotech expertise as a central pillar of Unilever’s Clean Future initiative.

Clean Future is the name of the innovation program launched by Home Care, the Unilever division that produces cleaning agents and detergents (brands such as Cif or Sunlight). The priority for program leaders is to make fundamental changes to how products are developed, manufactured, and packaged. Circular economy principles are to be applied going forward to all packaging and product formulations, with the aim of significantly reducing the carbon footprint of these brands.

Yann d’Hervé, the head of Evonik’s Care Solutions business line, is proud of years of collaboration with partners like Unilever who “share similar sustainability goals.” “Like Unilever, we’re also investing in advanced biomaterials and manufacturing processes such as fermentation to help realize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” he says.

In December of last year, Evonik began supplying Unilever with rhamnolipids, innovative and green biosurfactants. Unilever has already used Evonik’s rhamnolipids with tremendous success in dishwashing liquids. Produced using biotech methods—fermentation, in this case—these rhamnolipids are fully biodegradable and deliver outstanding foaming properties and cleaning performance. Researchers from Creavis, Process Engineering, and the Nutrition & Care division were involved in the development of an industrial manufacturing process for these naturally occurring biosurfactants.

“We will continue to grow our portfolio of ingredients produced using biotechnology methods,” says Dr. Hans Henning Wenk, the head of research and development for Care Solutions. “Our aim in doing that is to further strengthen our position as a leading provider of sustainable solutions that excite customers and end consumers.”