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Unilever Asks for Help on Environmental Projects

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.

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One thought on “Unilever Asks for Help on Environmental Projects

  1. The idea of crowd-sourcing innovation is certainly an interesting one. I wonder how it will work in practice – are they looking to buy products that could address their list of issues? Or are they looking to buy the actual ideas and/or hire the individuals with these ideas? Could be a good way to find great talent, if nothing else! I look forward to hearing how it goes.

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