Global consumer brands company Unilever announced today a new multi-year partnership with leading protein design company Arzeda, exploring biology-based solutions to transform the sustainability and performance of cleaning and laundry products.

Arzeda is a synthetic biology company that creates novel proteins, enzymes and specialty chemical products. The company has developed a portfolio of enzymes and specialty chemicals for polymers, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals and other advanced applications.

The new partnership aims to pursue sustainability and product benefits through the use of designed enzymes in Unilever’s cleaning and laundry products, and beyond. Unilever’s Neil Parry, R&D Director, Biotechnology and Biosourcing, explained:

“Enzymes are fundamental to the natural and living world around us, responsible for nearly all biological functions that take place on earth, from how plants and trees absorb CO2, to how we convert food to energy in our bodies. Enzymes have also long been a key ingredient in cleaning and laundry products, breaking down stains made from fat, oils, and protein chains on our laundry and surfaces. To date, science has only scraped the surface of the benefits they could provide in our everyday lives. Unlocking their power could provide almost endless possibilities.”

Unilever has been pursuing solutions to improve the sustainability profiles of its products, including a pledge to achieve net zero emissions from all products by 2039, and the company’s €1 billion Clean Future program, aimed at fundamentally changing the way that some of the world’s best known cleaning and laundry products are created, manufactured and packaged. Last year, Unilever announced a commitment to eliminate fossil fuels in its cleaning and laundry products by 2030.

Peter ter Kulve, Unilever Home Care President said:

“This partnership is an exciting step forward as we work to transform our cleaning and laundry business to be superior, sustainable and affordable to all. We look forward to working with Arzeda in developing a new generation of ultra-performing cleaning and laundry products with an environmental impact a fraction of the size of current products.”

Arzeda optimizes enzymes, which are low carbon, to replace ingredients with a high environmental footprint commonly found in most cleaning and laundry products. Over the next three years, Unilever will apply Arzeda’s digital biology techniques to its own product innovations across its cleaning and laundry portfolio. Additionally, the companies stated that the partnership will encourage knowledge sharing of previously undiscovered uses for enzymes that could solve wider consumer, industrial and environmental challenges across multiple sectors.

Alexandre Zanghellini, CEO and founder of Arzeda said:

“We are delighted to work with Unilever to support their Clean Future ambition with enzymes that improve the environmental footprint of consumer products. Arzeda’s mission is to design and manufacture new proteins that improve health and sustainability, and we see this partnership as a key milestone to make this a reality in home care. Working with Unilever, we hope to create a new era for industrial enzymes that will contribute to a more sustainable world while improving consumer experience.”