Unilever, in partnership with speciality chemicals company Evonik, has harnessed a naturally occurring process and turned it into a renewable ingredient; Rhamnolipid.
Rhamnolipid is a type of surfactant found in nature. Surfactants are unique ingredients used in cleaning products that create foam and act on surfaces, enabling dirt and grease to be easily lifted away.
This innovative ingredient was introduced to the market this summer in Unilever’s Quix dishwashing brand in Chile, the first time it has been used in a household cleaning product anywhere in the world.
Rhamnolipid is 100% renewable and biodegradable but is also ultra-mild on skin, which sets it apart from other surfactant options.
Peter ter Kulve, President of Unilever’s Home Care business said: “Our R&D team have been aware of Rhamnolipid for some years, but the technology and the science weren’t at a point where we were able to scale it and it remained an invention in a lab, until now. That’s why we are so delighted to be partnering with Evonik. Together, our teams have worked hard to deliver a sustainable and safe product with even better performance.
This breakthrough highlights that nature often has the answers to challenges, offering our consumers solutions that are good for people and planet, while still getting the job done. I can’t wait to see where this development takes our cleaning portfolio.”
Dr. Hans Henning Wenk, Vice President R&D at Evonik, said: “This is a key milestone and important step in our journey to finding more sustainable solutions. It’s the first innovation of its kind to launch in the household cleaning world and has the potential to fundamentally transform the way we produce cleaning ingredients – and positively influence countless other industries going forward.”
Unilever is committed to scaling the innovation further as well as exploring new technologies and innovations which offer renewable ingredients for its cleaning and laundry products.