Unilever and Liverpool Uni combine for £8.8m net zero project

Global consumer giant Unilever is joining forces with the universities of Liverpool and Oxford to look to slash carbon emissions in products such as shampoo and detergents. Tony McDonough reports

Shampoo, hairdressers, hair, salon
Shampoo, hairdressers, hair, salon


Global consumer giant Unilever is joining forces with the University of Liverpool, and the University of Oxford to slash carbon footprint of products such as shampoo and detergents.

Unilever produces and develops personal care and cleaning products at its factory and research centre in Port Sunlight in Wirral. It also operates the £81m Materials Innovation Factory in Liverpool in collaboration with the University of Liverpool.

Now, in a new £8.8m project called EPSRC Prosperity Partnership, experts from all three partners will seek to transform the global chemical supply chain and help the UK achieve its net zero target. It will look to provide sustainable routes to the chemicals used in consumer products from waste such as carbon dioxide and other renewable feedstocks.

These new routes will deliver the next-generation catalysts and polymers required for the new Net-Zero chemistry of consumer products.

Prosperity Partnerships are business-led research partnerships between leading UK based businesses and their long-term strategic university partners. The University of Liverpool has a long-standing strategic relationship with Unilever encompassing research and development, technology innovation and spin out activities.

Richard Slater, chief R&D officer at Unilever, said: “To achieve the UK’s net zero goal by 2050 we need a transformation of the global chemical supply chain. This partnership is an important milestone towards this, driving forward important research on new renewable and biodegradable materials for everyday products, such as laundry detergents.

“We’re delighted to bring together our world-leading scientists alongside those from the University of Liverpool, the University of Oxford, and our other partners, to tackle this issue.”

The project is one of nine Prosperity Partnerships supported by an overall investment of £75m from business, academia and UK Research and Innovation’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Professor Matthew Rosseinsky, from the University of Liverpool’s Department of Chemistry, added: “We are excited to work with Unilever and the University of Oxford on this ambitious research programme that will open new paths to the sustainable catalysts and processes needed to access the renewable and bio-degradable materials for the consumer products of the future.

“This project reflects our shared commitment to achieve net zero through co-creation of new chemical science.”

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