In global first, HUL readying new detergent making environment-friendly technology


Hindustan Unilever (HUL), India’s biggest consumer goods firm, is taking a global first step to experiment with an innovative technology to produce essential raw materials for detergents, namely Soda Ash and Silicate, reported ET. The primary aim of this endeavor is to drastically cut down greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). India will be the first market for Unilever to embark on the path of virtually eliminating soda ash emissions through the utilization of Green Ammonia, an initiative facilitated by collaborating with suppliers and vendors to bolster its sustainability agenda.
During the recent Clean Future Summit hosted by HUL, the company announced its new technology for manufacturing soda ash and silicate, essential components of laundry detergents. This technology promises a substantial reduction in Scope 3 emissions, encompassing all indirect GHG emissions associated with a company’s value chain, including both upstream and downstream suppliers.
According to Deepak Subramanian, Executive Director of Home Care at HUL, this eco-friendly initiative isn’t just about “going green for the sake of it. “At the heart of it is we take consumer pain points, and we need products that are superior, affordable, and sustainable. We have some amazing examples where it is possible to reduce emissions and improve performance. That is where my innovation funnel is now filling up very fast, with lots of new technologies and ideas where we can get all three going,” he told ET.
HUL commands a dominant position in India’s laundry market, holding a market share exceeding 43%, with renowned brands like Surf, Rin, and Wheel. In fact, HUL’s home care business in India stands as Unilever’s largest globally, boasting annual sales of Rs 21,230 crore.
Subramanian added, “This is a category where performance matters and we are very clear that if that drops in our hunt for sustainable products, then consumers will penalize us for it.”
In the previous fiscal year, HUL made strides in reducing its carbon footprint, achieving a 97% reduction in CO2 emissions per ton of production compared to the 2008 baseline. Moreover, HUL has been plastic-neutral since 2021.
Around 95% of its paper and board used in packaging, 82% of its tomato sourcing, and 69% of its tea procurement come from sustainable sources. Additionally, the company delivered a combined water potential of over 2.6 trillion liters. HUL has set forth a clear path toward achieving zero emissions in its operations by 2030 and net zero emissions across its value chain by 2039, aligning with Unilever’s Compass Commitment and Climate Transition Action plan, the ET report said.
However, to fortify its commitment to sustainability, HUL acknowledges the necessity of support from its supplier ecosystem. Rajat Arora, Home Care R&D Head for South Asia and Asia at HUL, emphasizes the need for collaborative efforts with partners to introduce groundbreaking technology. This collaboration extends beyond internal investments to leveraging external partnerships that will drive these sustainability initiatives.
One crucial ingredient in HUL’s products is soda ash. “We capture carbon from the atmosphere, which is used as a feedstock for the process. One of the feedstocks for the processes, ammonia, and working with the TFL and the partners, we will get the world’s first green ammonia being used to manufacture the soda ash. So that takes us to near net zero,” Rajat Arora said.
HUL plans to scale up low GHG soda ash production through carbon capture technology and biomass utilization in collaboration with Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals and Fertilisers Limited (TFL). Additionally, they will pilot the creation of near-zero soda ash using Green Ammonia, produced by their supplier in Egypt, OCI, in collaboration with TFL. Furthermore, HUL intends to expand the production of low GHG Green Silicate in partnership with Sudarshan Chemicals, leveraging a modified production process and biomass in boiler operations.

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