Unilever and Google Cloud team up to reimagine the future of sustainable sourcing

Both companies aim to combat deforestation with cloud computing.

Google Cloud and Unilever have jointly announced to advance sustainable business practices together using technology to expand the use of data for eco-friendly decision making. As an initial step of this partnership, the two companies will collaborate on a commercial application of Google Cloud and Google Earth Engine for sustainable commodity sourcing.

By combining cloud computing with satellite imagery and artificial intelligence, the two companies will be able to build a more holistic view of the forests, water cycles, and biodiversity that intersect Unilever’s supply chain – raising sustainable sourcing standards for suppliers and bringing Unilever closer to its goal of ending deforestation and regenerating nature.

Google Cloud and Unilever will work with a broad range of technology partners to build a centralised command centre. This will provide an overview of the ecosystems connected to Unilever’s supply chain, and create a better mechanism for detecting deforestation whilst simultaneously prioritising critical areas of forest and habitats in need of protection.

Dave Ingram, chief procurement officer, Unilever, concluded: “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.”

Unilever, which owns over 400 brands and whose products are used by 2.5 billion people every day, has made sustainability an intrinsic part of its business. The company’s sustainable sourcing initiative, which is initially focused on sustainable palm oil, will be extended to other commodities in the future, directly supporting Unilever’s existing work with other technology partners to achieve a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023.

Google Cloud’s planetary-scale geo-spatial platform, including Google Earth Engine, Google Cloud Storage and BigQuery, combines satellite imagery with the ability to store and analyse large amounts of complex data. Unilever will use the platform to obtain insights into any impact on sourcing to the environment and local communities, allowing the company and its suppliers to take action wherever and whenever it is needed.