Google Cloud and Unilever have announced that they will advance sustainable business practices together using technology to expand the use of data for eco-friendly decision making. As an initial step in this partnership, the two companies are collaborating on the first commercial application of Google Cloud and Google Earth Engine for sustainable commodity sourcing.
By combining the power of cloud computing with satellite imagery and AI, the two companies are building 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 a more complete picture of the ecosystems connected to Unilever’s supply chain and create a better mechanism for detecting deforestation – leading to greater accountability – whilst simultaneously prioritising critical areas of forest and habitats in need of protection.
Unilever, which owns 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 accurate satellite imagery, with the ability to store and make sense of 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 Unilever and its suppliers to take action wherever and whenever it is needed.
Simplifying complex datasets is critical to increasing transparency within supply chains and enabling collaboration across public and private partners. Today, Google Earth Engine is used for planetary-scale image analysis by academic and public institutions, as well as civil society organisations. This first commercial application with Unilever will enable further innovation that can be shared with sourcing partners of all types on a common platform.
“This collaboration with Google Cloud will take us to the next level in sustainable sourcing,” said Dave Ingram, Unilever’s Chief Procurement Officer. “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.”
“At Google, we strive to build sustainability into everything that we do. Unilever has been an industry leader in environmental sustainability for many years, and we’re excited to be on this journey with them,” said Rob Enslin, President, Google Cloud. “Together, we’re demonstrating how technology can be a powerful tool in aiding businesses who strive to protect the Earth’s resources. It will require collective action to drive meaningful change, and we are committed to doing our part.”