On the road to reduce its environmental footprint, Unilever has agreed to buy nearly three million gallons of algae-derived oil from Solazyme for use in its personal care products. The deal will contribute greatly to the CPG giant's goal to use only sustainable agricultural raw materials by 2020.
“This is the first oil that was jointly developed that’s going to a product sale,” Jonathan S. Wolfson, Solazyme’s CEO, told the New York Times. “We’ve laid out the path for years, and now we’re closing the first big loop about where a big chunk of this oil goes coming out of one of these plants.”
Solazyme's renewable products can replace or enhance oils currently derived from petroleum, plants and animal fats—with commercialization efforts that will lend well to industries including chemicals and fuels, nutrition, and skin and personal care.
"Unilever is a global leader in both performance based consumer packaged goods and sustainability, and this agreement further solidifies their commitment to supply consumers with the best performing and most sustainable products available," Wolfson added. With a market cap of over $120 billion, Unilever and its stable of brands, including Dove, Hellmann's, Ben & Jerry's and Vaseline, maintains strong values on sustainable practices, believing that "businesses that address both the direct concerns of citizens and the needs of the environment will prosper over the long term."
The company’s Sustainable Living Plan includes achieving ambitious business results while improving the lives of one billion people and sourcing 100 percent of their raw materials sustainably. Unilever is also ranked second behind Nestle on Oxfam's sustainability ranking, which looks at transparency in sourcing, labor rights and other factors.
“With scale comes responsibility—so we must continue to play a leadership role in seeking solutions for global transformational issues like climate change, food security and poverty alleviation," Unilever CEO Paul Polman said.
The company is currently sponsoring a global health campaign tied to handwashing and its LifeBuoy product, but its most famous campaign comes from its Dove brand, whose long-running 'Real Beauty' campaign has set a standard for positive, transparent brand messaging. It's most recent effort, 'Sketches,' is the most-viewed branded video on YouTube, with 56 million views.