‘This new venture will sit right at the intersection of science and sustainability.’
Unilever is to partner with Genomatica (Geno) to scale and commercialise alternatives to palm oil and fossil-derived cleaning ingredients. The venture will see an investment of $120 million, which will be used to develop alternative plant-based ingredients using biotechnology. Unilever said that the partnership marks its biggest collaboration in biotechnology-based alternatives to palm oils to date. Further strategic investors are expected to join in due course.
Geno’s technology produces surfactants using a fermentation process based on sugars in the presence of microorganisms. The partners have said that the venture offers the opportunity to tap into the combined $625 billion home and personal care markets. Unilever has committed to a deforestation-free palm oil supply chain by 2023.
Unilever's Chief R&D Officer, Richard Slater, said ‘We can continue to grow our business without relying on palm oil or fossil fuel derivatives.’
Geno’s Chief Executive Officer Christophe Schilling said: ‘Beyond creating new, transparent and responsibly sourced supply chains and alternatively-sourced materials, our Geno technology also represents the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 million tonnes in upcoming years.’
Geno, based in San Diego, California, US has collaborated with a number of market-leading companies. Partners include Lululemon Athletica, with a multi-year collaboration to bring bio-materials into Lululemon’s apparel; and Novamont, commercialising bio-based butanediol.
Unilever Chief R&D Officer Richard Slater commented: ‘This new venture will sit right at the intersection of science and sustainability, meaning we can continue to grow our business without relying on palm oil or fossil fuel derivatives, while making our supply chains more resilient.’
During March of this year, SCI Corporate Partners Unilever, BASF and Croda discussed the issue of greener feedstocks at a Parliamentary & Scientific Committee discussion chaired by Stephen Metcalf MP.