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Clean Home. Clean Planet. Clean Future.

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.

Robot arm

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.

Leaf with water droplets on it

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

  1. Renewable and recycled ingredients using The Carbon Rainbow

    The Carbon Rainbow image

    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.

  2. Big on biodegradability to preserve water

    Seventh Generation bottle

    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.

  3. Compact and concentrated formula for a smaller carbon footprint

    Omo Refil Diluir bottle

    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%.

  4. Packaging designed for a waste-free world

    Sunlight refill bottle

    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.

  5. Products that help reduce energy and water during use

    Image of Rin packaging

    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.

Peter ter Kulve

"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.

Powered by waste

Many brands make their packaging from recycled plastic. But what about making the ingredients from waste too? A product with the same great performance, but with fewer, more powerful ingredients. Many of which are from recycled sources. All of which are biodegradable. And bottles that are unique.

It might be going a bit far to suggest these will become collectable, but they are ‘beautifully ugly’, so you never know.

Powered by waste image

Small is better

Imagine a laundry capsule that’s so ultra-concentrated it can be made super small but still pack a mighty punch. With fewer chemicals, it would be lower carbon and therefore better for the environment.

Being more compact and lighter means less CO2 emitted and less packaging needed to transport it from factory to store to home. And all the ingredients are 100% biodegradable of course.

Small is better image

A self-cleaning toilet?

Cleaning toilets properly is important, but probably not a job that most people look forward to. So we thought… how about a toilet that does it for you? Technology could give us a product with a coating that’s resistant to germs and stains, so the treated surfaces continue to clean themselves.

That means greater convenience because you need to clean less often. It also means longer-lasting protection, made possible by natural ingredients. And a refillable pack means less plastic waste.

Self cleaning toilet

The perfect combination

Washing machines – like lots of home appliances – are getting smart. But what if they could be even smarter? For instance, a high-tech dispensing system which contains all the detergent ingredients, then mixes them in exactly the right way for the fabrics and stains in that particular load of laundry.

A built-in microfibre filter captures particles from entering the environment. And when empty, the cartridges can be returned to be cleaned, refilled and reused. Truly circular by design.

Perfect Combination

Clean Future Supplier Awards 2021

Excellence Award

This year's top award, the Clean Future Excellence Award, goes to the fragrance house MANE who have raised the bar for the fragrance industry with a winning biodegradable, renewable fragrance.

Brilliance Award #1

KLK are recognised for building a verifiable and traceable no deforestation, no peat conversion and exploitation free palm oil supply for the production of their surfactants – a key cleaning ingredient.

Brilliance Award #2

Croda are recognised for pioneering the next generation of polymers – a key ingredient in modern cleaning products – and making them biodegradable and from renewable sources while delivering new care benefits.

Brilliance Award #3

University of Liverpool and University of Oxford are recognised for coming together to unlock new areas of materials science such as breakthrough catalysts to convert CO2 into chemicals. It’s truly state of the art science, which shows our Carbon Rainbow model in action.

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