Unilever has partnered with LanzaTech and India Glycols to produce laundry soap based on industrial carbon emissions, rather than fossil fuels.
The innovative shift in production uses biotechnologies and a newly configured supply chain between the three partners, who are working together for the first time.
Typically derived from fossil fuels, surfactants are a critical ingredient in creating the foaming and cleaning action of many household cleaning and laundry products, from dish soaps to fabric detergents. The new process now allows surfactants to be made using recycled carbon.
Recycled carbon is a key form of renewable carbon and is essential to eliminate the use of fossil fuels.
The process marks the first time that a surfactant made from captured carbon emissions will be offered to consumers in a conventional cleaning product. The new surfactant launched in China on April 22, Earth Dan, in an OMO (Persil) laundry capsule and, best of all, it won’t increase the price of the product.
Unilever’s 2020 consumer data found that 87% of consumers in China considered climate change to be as serious a threat as Covid-19, the highest of all countries surveyed.
The advancement process consists mainly of three stages:
Capture– LanzaTech, a “world leader in CarbonSmart products”, uses biotechnology to capture industrial waste emissions at its Beijing Shougang plant and converts these emissions into ethanol, which is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 82% compared to traditional fossil fuel. process, according to a study by the company.
Conversion: India Glycols converts ethanol into ethylene oxide, a key raw material for making surfactants at its India plant.
Formulation: Unilever uses the surfactant in the new OMO laundry capsules, manufactured at its Hefei factory in China.
The partnership is just one of the ways Unilever is delivering on its September 2020 Clean Future promise, which states that the multinational company hopes to remove fossil fuel-based chemicals from its cleaning and laundry product formulations for 2030.
“Advances in technology like this mean that we can now reinvent the chemistry of our products,” says Peter ter Kulve, President, Home Care, Unilever. “Instead of releasing valuable carbon directly into the atmosphere, we can capture and recycle it in our products instead of using fossil fuels.
“New innovations like this help move our iconic cleaning brands away from fossil fuels without compromising performance or affordability,” he added. a company statement.
Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech said: “Our planet is running out of time and the way we treat carbon requires urgent review. By working with Unilever and IGL, we can turn residual carbon into an opportunity, keeping fossil fuels in the ground and enabling new circular processes to make the products we use every day. “
A recent report estimates that renewable carbon production will need to increase by a factor of 15 by 2050 to phase out the use of fossil carbon in consumer products.
The Unilever Home Care division is also committed to achieving net zero emissions from all products by 2039.
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