Unilever and biotech outfit Genomatica have launched a $120m venture to scale and commercialise alternatives to palm oil and fossil fuel-derived ingredients for personal care and other applications.
The initiative, which other strategic investors are expected to join, will develop a plant-based ingredient using biotechnology.
Genomatica will deploy its proven biotechnology platform and is already starting to scale the process for its advanced technology to produce the ingredients.
Initial estimates have shown that companies could reduce the carbon footprint of palm-derived ingredients by up to 50% with this technology-driven, plant-based alternative.
Unilever’s chief R&D officer Richard Slater said: “Biotechnology has the potential to revolutionise the sourcing of our cleansing ingredients and ensure Unilever is a future-fit business – for consumers, shareholders and the planet we all share.
“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, while also making our supply chains more resilient from having access to ingredient alternatives.”
Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling added: “Our technology enables pathways for alternative sourcing of materials whose supply chains often have limited social and environmental transparency, by offering more resilient supply chains that are transparent, traceable and responsibly-sourced, as demanded by consumers.
“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 tons in upcoming years.”