We’re reimagining the future of cleaning and it starts with reinventing a century-old history of chemistry.
Billions of people around the world are asking for products that are tough on germs and stains, and ever more convenient to use. But now, people also want these products to be kinder to the planet.
The science and technology now exist to make this possible.
The best of both worlds
For generations, we’ve helped remove the dirt and stains that are all part of people living healthier, more enjoyable lives.
While our efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our products have been considerable and sometimes ground-breaking, we know we need to do more. On an even bigger scale. Quickly.
This starts with the ingredients we use. These are responsible for the biggest share of greenhouse gas emissions across the lifecycle of our Home Care brands.
So, we’ve come up with a new strategy: Clean Future.
This is how we will transform some of the most popular cleaning and laundry brands in the world to become lower carbon and lower waste, with the same or even better performance.
We will use renewable or recycled carbon sources above the ground to end our dependence on non-replaceable fossil fuels from under the ground.
That, combined with embracing exciting advances in low-carbon chemistry, means we can play our part in the fight against climate change and help to preserve, restore and regenerate the earth’s natural resources.
From what goes into our cleaning and laundry products to the way we package them, we’re changing it all.
The innovation behind the revolution
Through Clean Future, we aim to replace 100% of the carbon derived from fossil fuels in our Home Care formulations with renewable or recycled carbon by 2030. But that’s not all. Across Unilever, we’ve already committed to:
- Achieving a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023.
- Ensuring net zero carbon emissions from all our products, from cradle to shelf, by 2039.
- Halving the greenhouse gas impact of our products across their lifecycle by 2030.
- Aiming to make our product formulations biodegradable by 2030.
- Halving our use of virgin plastic packaging, helping to collect and process more plastic packaging than we sell, ensuring all our plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and using at least 25% recycled plastic in our packaging, also by 2025.
Our areas of focus and goals
Renewable and recycled ingredients using The Carbon Rainbow
As we pave the way to de-carbonise our product formulations, we must diversify the carbon sources we use – such as taking carbon from plants (green carbon), the atmosphere (purple carbon), marine sources such as algae (blue carbon), and waste materials like plastic (grey carbon). We call this the Carbon Rainbow.
Unilever is a founding Advisory Board member of the Renewable Carbon Initiative (RCI). This is an emerging coalition from the Nova Institute that aims to bring renewable carbon to the political stage and to develop and implement a sustainable future for the chemical and plastics industry.
Big on biodegradability to preserve water
We’re working with our innovation partners to create an entire new generation of cleaning polymers and fragrance that do not persist in the environment. In other words, we are working hard to ensure our products leave no trace behind. And we’re making good progress.
Compact and concentrated formula for a smaller carbon footprint
To reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from our Home Care products, we’re designing them with radically fewer, but higher performing ingredients. Highly convenient formats such as laundry capsules. Refill and dilutable systems that are more affordable, cut plastic waste and GHG emissions. And superior performing concentrated liquids and powders. Doing so, we have been able to reduce the carbon footprint of some of our cleaning products by over 66%.
Packaging designed for a waste-free world
We can eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the cycle. This demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products. It requires us to introduce new and innovative materials, and scale up new business models, like reuse and refill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity.
Products that help reduce energy and water during use
While we’re working hard to reduce the energy and water needed to create our packaging and ingredients, when our products are used in people’s homes – particularly for washing clothes – this also has a significant environmental impact. So, we’re developing new products and formulations that work well even at low temperatures, require less water for rinsing or even no water at all. With our pack, we are also encouraging people to choose quick wash cycle to save on water and energy.
"Clean Future is how we are fundamentally changing the way that some of the world’s most well-known cleaning and laundry products are created, manufactured and packaged."
Peter ter Kulve - President, Home Care
What might the future of cleaning look like?
Here we imagine some of the possibilities that could, one day, become reality.
Clean Future on shelf (6 items)
Clean Future Supplier Awards 2022 (3 items)
Our Clean Future Awards recognise our supply partners who have made the biggest contribution to our Clean Future agenda. They consist of the ‘Brilliance Award’ winners and one overall ‘Excellence Award’, recognising the outstanding work that meets all three parts of our strategy – superior, sustainable, affordable.