Fatty alcohol made from fermented sugar could substitute palm oil

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information/unilever/index.html” id=”mol-cdcee190-ed65-11ec-85c7-ed433c64c1ca”>Unilever has introduced a new $120 million (£99 million) biotech enterprise that could assist save rainforests by making a substitute for palm oil.

The ingredient is utilized in meals manufacturing and wonder merchandise however its manufacturing can also be liable for the fast deforestation of a number of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species just like the orangutan.

Using cutting-edge technology, British client items big Unilever hopes to slash its carbon footprint from palm-derived components by as much as 50 per cent.

It would see the choice, plant-based ingredient – a brand new fatty information/alcohol/index.html” id=”mol-cdc062a0-ed65-11ec-85c7-ed433c64c1ca”>alcohol made from fermented sugar – added to magnificence and cleansing merchandise throughout the subsequent 5 years.

Palm oil manufacturing was responsible for about 8 per cent of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008. It is utilized in all the things from P&G’s Tide pods to Ferrero’s Nutella. 

Unilever has teamed up with San Diego-based biotech firm Genomatica as a part of the brand new enterprise.

Unilever has introduced a brand new $120 million (£99 million) biotech enterprise that could assist save rainforests by making a substitute for palm oil (pictured) 

Using cutting-edge <a href=technology, the buyer items big desires its palm-oil substitute – a brand new fatty alcohol made from fermented sugar – added to magnificence and cleansing merchandise” class=”blkBorder img-share” model=”max-width:100%” />

Using cutting-edge technology, the buyer items big desires its palm-oil substitute – a brand new fatty alcohol made from fermented sugar – added to magnificence and cleansing merchandise


  1. Colgate-Palmolive
  2. General Mills
  3. Hershey
  4. Kellogg’s
  5. Kraft Heinz
  6. L’Oreal
  7. Mars
  8. Mondelez
  9. Nestlé
  10. PepsiCo
  11. Reckitt Benckiser  
  12. Unilever

It hopes the funding, which is the agency’s largest collaboration in biotechnology options to palm oil so far, will create a brand new, sustainable choice for the $625 billion (£515 billion) dwelling and private care markets.

‘The alternative to supply the identical nice cleansing, however with a good smaller environmental affect is vastly thrilling,’ Richard Slater, Unilever’s chief analysis and improvement officer. informed MailOnline.

‘In this pilot stage, we’re utilizing sugar from licensed sustainable sources. 

‘Sugar is a extremely versatile and fast rising crop that may be cultivated all over the place that means that sooner or later, we will supply our base ingredient near the manufacturing plant. 

‘This means we will additionally scale back the carbon footprint related to transporting the supplies to be processed.’

He added: ‘Initial estimates have proven that firms could scale back the carbon footprint of palm-derived components by as much as 50 per cent by changing them with this different ingredient. 

‘What’s extra, as we additional develop the technology, we can even be investigating whether or not we will make use of left-behind merchandise from agriculture, for instance crop stubble from farming that will in any other case go to waste.’

Mr Slater informed MailOnline that the substitute ingredient for palm oil and fossil fuel-based foaming brokers could be prepared to make use of ‘very quickly’ – between 2026 and 2028.

‘It’s but to be decided precisely which merchandise will use the brand new ingredient nonetheless it will likely be shared throughout our Home Care, Beauty & Wellbeing, and Personal Care portfolios,’ he mentioned.

Palm oil is a versatile liquid which is made from an edible liquid derived from the fruit of the African oil palm tree (pictured). It has a range of uses which means it is found in shampoo, detergent, ice cream, instant noodles, lipstick, soap, bread and more

Palm oil is a flexible liquid which is made from an edible liquid derived from the fruit of the African oil palm tree (pictured). It has a spread of makes use of which implies it’s present in shampoo, detergent, ice cream, on the spot noodles, lipstick, cleaning soap, bread and extra

‘We hope to show to the business the opportunity of utilizing bio-based components to assist us scale back reliance on palm or fossil gas sources.’

At current, there are few viable options to palm and fossil sources that may be produced at scale with the intention to make components to lather and elevate dust throughout cleansing. 

One of the world’s largest cleaning soap and detergent makers, Unilever mentioned palm oil would nonetheless stay an vital feedstock in its manufacturing course of.

But it mentioned different components could play a rising position in diversifying provide chains to ‘drive optionality, sustainability and value administration’. 

‘Biotechnology has the potential to revolutionise the sourcing of our cleaning components and guarantee Unilever is a future-fit business – for shoppers, shareholders and the planet all of us share,’ mentioned Mr Slater.

‘This new enterprise will sit on the intersection of science and sustainability, that means we will proceed to develop our business with out relying solely on palm oil or fossil gas derivatives and on the identical time make our provide chains extra resilient by means of gaining access to ingredient options.’

Unilever has teamed up with San Diego-based biotech company Genomatica (pictured) as part of the new venture

Unilever has teamed up with San Diego-based biotech firm Genomatica (pictured) as a part of the brand new enterprise

He added: ‘We will probably be marrying science and nature to ensure there isn’t a trade-off for our shoppers between the efficacy and sustainability of their merchandise. 

‘We are constructing this modern new enterprise to have the size to drive actual affect and alter in our business, reinventing the chemistry of dwelling and private care merchandise for the twenty first Century.’

Christophe Schilling, Geno CEO, mentioned: ‘We’ve developed our technology in response to our planet’s pressing local weather disaster and we have confirmed that biotechnology can substitute conventional manufacturing strategies to supply components with bio-based sources that ship each high-performance and sustainability, at scale.

‘Beyond creating new clear and responsibly sourced-supply chains and alternatively-sourced supplies, our Geno technology additionally represents the potential to scale back greenhouse gasoline emissions by 100 million tonnes in upcoming years.’  

As commodities – from crude oil to sunflower oil – stay briefly provide, Unilever has already modified the ingredient make-up for a few of its merchandise like deodorants and packaged meals to chop prices and mitigate provide constraints.

The capability to change components and supplies, one thing client items producers historically discover troublesome, grew to become much more beneficial after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to commodity costs hitting multi-year highs.

In April, Unilever boss Alan Jope mentioned the corporate had begun altering a few of its recipes so it could use rapeseeed oil as an alternative of sunflower oil, which had turn into scarce because the invasion. 

Ukraine usually produces about half the world’s exports of sunflower oil.


Environmental teams have usually rejected proposals to make biofuels out of meals sources comparable to corn or on land that could be used for meals.

While biofuel would possibly sound good on paper, researchers have discovered that as an alternative of utilizing fossil fuels to inject eons-old carbon into the air, it recycles carbon from the environment.

In apply the analysis factors to a way more adverse affect on the surroundings.

Last 12 months a brand new evaluation – commissioned by the NGOs BirdLife and Transport and Environment – backed these calling for an finish to the usage of food-based biofuels.

It argued that demand for biofuels made from meals crops has led to a rise in world meals costs and is damaging the surroundings.

Increases on world meals costs have a excessive toll significantly on the city poor in growing nations, researchers discovered.

Here the worth of meals staples can signify a 3rd or extra of whole family spending. Even small will increase then have a big affect on folks’s welfare.

Another report from final 12 months discovered biofuels made from meals crops results in extra emissions than these produced by fossil fuels.

The report by the Royal Academy of Engineering combines greater than 250 research on the affect of biofuels and warns that clear biofuels comparable to algae are nonetheless far off.

The most often used varieties of biodisesel in the meanwhile are palm oil, soybrean, rapeseed and sunflowers, all of that are extra polluting than diesel. 

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