Unilever embarks on $120m alternative palm oil venture

It has partnered with a biotech business to develop a sustainable way to make its cleaning products

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Unilever and biotech business Geno have joined forces for a $120 million project to develop alternatives in product manufacturing to palm oil and fossil fuels.

Palm oil and fossil fuels are common in the making of many cleaning products and Geno is looking to use its biotechnology to develop a plant-based ingredient to replace these.

Unilever is one of the world’s largest soap and detergent manufacturers – and hopes its investment will allow it to bring more sustainable products to the market.

It has stated that this deal represents the biggest investment into palm oil biotech alternatives to date.

With a plant-based alternative, the carbon footprint of these cleaning products could be halved.

Palm oil is common in many products but has been heavily linked to deforestation, as industrial demand grows.

Richard Slater from Unilever said: “This new venture will sit at the intersection of science and sustainability, meaning we can continue to grow our business without relying only on palm oil or fossil fuel derivatives and at the same time make our supply chains more resilient through having access to ingredient alternatives.”

“We’ve developed our technology in response to our planet’s urgent climate crisis and we’ve proven that biotechnology can replace traditional production methods to produce ingredients with bio-based sources that deliver both high-performance and sustainability, at scale,” added Geno CEO Christophe Schilling.