Unilever, Google Partner to End Supply Chain Deforestation

Unilever aims to end deforestation in its supply chain by 2023.

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Need to Know

  • Google will capture images for Unilever of the ecosystems that intersect with the consumer goods company’s supply chain.
  • Using data from Google, Unilever aims to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023.
  • Unilever also launched a pilot with Orbital Insight, a company that specializes in geospatial analytics, to help combat deforestation in August of this year.
  • Google has previously partnered with organizations such as WWF to reduce the environmental impact of textile production.

Analysis

Consumer giant Unilever is taking steps to make its supply chain more sustainable, partnering with Google to get a more complete picture—literally—of how its manufacturing processes interact with ecosystems around the world.

On September 23, Unilever announced it would be partnering with Google Cloud to capture satellite images of the forests, water systems, and other natural landscapes that intersect with the former company’s supply chain. Unilever will leverage Google’s ability to store and process complex data to gain greater insight into how its manufacturing processes affect the planet and to help the company reach its goal of going completely deforestation-free by 2023.

“This collaboration with Google Cloud will take us to the next level in sustainable sourcing,” Dave Ingram, Unilever’s chief procurement officer, said in a statement announcing the partnership. “We will now be able to process and combine complex sets of data like never before. The combination of these sustainability insights with our commercial sourcing information is a significant step-change in transparency, which is crucial to better protect and regenerate nature.”

Google Cloud president Rob Enslin said that, along with Unilever, Google is “demonstrating how technology can be a powerful tool in aiding businesses who strive to protect the Earth’s resources.”

“At Google, we strive to build sustainability into everything that we do,” he said. “Unilever has been an industry leader in environmental sustainability for many years, and we’re excited to be on this journey with them.”

The Google Cloud partnership comes just one month after Unilever announced it would be teaming up with Orbital Insight, a geospatial analytics company, to help monitor Unilever’s palm oil supply chain specifically. That partnership was also aimed at helping Unilever eliminate deforestation from its practices.

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