Wed 2 September 2020:
Unilever has said it will eliminate the use of fossil fuels in its cleaning products by 2030 as part of efforts to transition the entire firm over to net zero emissions.
The consumer goods firm said that chemicals used in its cleaning and laundry products make up the greatest proportion of their carbon footprint (46 per cent) across their lifecycle.
It has therefore decided to transition away from fossil-fuel-derived chemicals in product formulations for its major brands such as OMO (Persil), Sunlight, Cif and Domestos.
Unilever also said it will develop “novel” ways of reducing the carbon footprint of its brands and expects this to reduce the carbon footprint of the product formulations by up to 20 per cent.
Instead of petrochemicals, the products would substitute constituents created from plants and other biological sources, marine sources such as algae, and waste materials.
The step is a component of Unilever’s Clean Future programme, designed to change the way its cleaning and laundry products are created, manufactured and packaged.
The programme is aimed at helping Unilever deliver its pledge of net zero emissions from its products by 2039.
Peter ter Kulve, Unilever’s president of Home Care, said: “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 when there is ample carbon on and above the ground if we can learn to use it at scale.
“We’ve seen unprecedented demand for our cleaning products in recent months and we are incredibly proud to play our part, helping to keep people safe in the fight against Covid-19.
“But that should not be a reason for complacency. We cannot let ourselves become distracted from the environmental crises that our world – our home – is facing. Pollution. Destruction of natural habitats. The climate emergency. This is the home we share, and we have a responsibility to protect it.”
Last year Unilever said it had transitioned all of its facilities to run on electricity from renewable sources and had halved carbon emissions per tonne of production since 2008.
But the firm has not always had a glowing environmental record and its activities have been blamed for everything from deforestation in Indonesia to a salmonella outbreak in India after the disease infected some of its cereals. It has also been cited as one of the top ten global plastic polluters.