Northumbria University to help Unilever meet sustainability targets

Northumbria University has announced a formal alliance with Unilever to help the company establish new ways of meeting its packaging, water-use and energy sustainability targets.

The partnership corresponds with the opening of the University’s design-led innovation centre – INNOVATE – and will see students and academics from Northumbria School of Design focus on areas such as developing new packaging technology for Unilever.

Pro vice-chancellor for business and engagement at Northumbria University Lucy Winskell OBE said: “We have a strong track record of collaboration with Unilever and we are delighted to be strengthening the relationship through INNOVATE.

“It is an incredibly exciting opportunity to help Unilever hit its sustainability targets and make a genuine difference on a global scale, for our pioneering research to have positive impact and for our students to gain real world experience at the highest level.

“The success of our partnership model developed with Unilever is an approach we can replicate with other businesses. At a regional level INNOVATE also supports the North East LEP Strategic Economic Plan.

“It works because it is extremely easy for partners to access a unique cross-faculty resource of research-engaged academics and talented students to solve problems and deliver solutions. With INNOVATE multidisciplinary knowledge is available through one door and under one roof.”

Sustainability goals

Unilever vice president R&D for packaging Paul Howells said: “For a business like Unilever, tapping into the latest academic thinking and research is clearly invaluable. We are working with Northumbria because we believe they bring something unique and special which can help us to achieve our long-term goals, particularly associated with sustainability.

“The partnership also gives us the opportunity to work with very capable young people who may decide that Unilever is the sort of organisation they would like to work with, and vice versa. An organisation like Unilever is only as good as the talent it attracts, so this is a nice additional benefit.”

Unilever recently published its Sustainable Palm Oil Progress Report 2014, which stated that all palm oil directly sourced for its European Foods business will be 100% traceable and certified sustainable by the end of 2014. 

Lois Vallely

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