Unilever’s Open Innovation team has launched an online platform seeking technical solutions for reducing its environmental impact while doubling the size of its business.
The company has published details of a range of research projects, including ones aimed at better packaging and natural food preservation, and invited potential collaborators to work with Unilever’s research and development team.
Projects are listed on the Unilever web site as a series of “wants.” In the case of the packaging project, Unilever is seeking help on creating multipurpose, lightweight and cost-effective packaging. Techniques from the architecture or construction trades or the use of thin-walling could be used to achieve these goals, Unilever says.
On natural food preservation, the company says that any solution to the problem must limit the growth of bacillus, lactobacillus, yeast or mold and be accepted as “natural” by consumers.
Unilever says it has launched the site to bring in partners with a “fresh, serious” approach to to developing new technology. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Unilever’s plan echoes one by rival Procter & Gamble Co., which is now seeking to generate $3 billion in annual sales from products jointly developed with outside innovators.
The initiative forms part of Unilever’s plan to cut the environmental impacts of its products by 50 percent, announced in 2010.
Unilever recently earned a Platinum Plus rating for corporate responsibility from U.K. nonprofit Business in the Community.