Unilever to crowdsource sustainability innovations from consumers

Unilever is crowdsourcing sustainability ideas from consumers as the latest phase of its Foundry initiative to connect the business to entrepreneurial ideas.

The company unveiled the Foundry IDEAS platform at the Cannes Lions festival today (26 June) and it will act us a hub for consumers and entrepreneurs to work together to tackle sustainability challenges. The peer-to-peer mechanic is an extension of the one behind existing Foundry initiative.

Similar to the Foundry, “grand challenges” will be regularly uploaded to the Foundry IDEAS site where its community can then either submit ideas or add to other people’s in response to the pitches. Three ideas are currently open for entries, encouraging people to solve issues in sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition.

The best ideas will be piloted or implemented, a reward Unilever thinks will act as ample incentive for many people to invest in the platform.

Unilever hopes crowdsourcing puts fresh momentum behind its Sustainable Living Plan to halve the environmental impact of its products and extend its supply chain to farmers in developing countries by 2020. Since it launched it 2010, the initiative has been backed wholeheartedly by Unilever, encompassing everything from marketing campaigns to production innovations. It launched the Foundry last May to help it achieve the goal but the latest development is the first time its crowdsourcing efforts will be diverted solely to sustainability.

"We’re five years in to our 10-year Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to make our operations and brands more sustainable,” said Sue Garrard, senior vice president of sustainable business development and communications at Unilever. “We have made huge strides in our factories and with our suppliers. The next stage is to find people with new and innovative ideas so that together we can help transform the way we live our daily lives, for us all to become more sustainable.”

Earlier this year, the business erected a central hub to house all crowdsourcing briefs in order to better organise outsourced marketing activity.

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