Unilever's Laundry Biz Is Greener, and Growing

Its sustainable detergents, Surf Excel and Small & Mighty, are launched in developing markets. Now they're driving growth in Europe, too

When Unilever (UN) challenged its scientists to come up with a detergent that uses fewer resources, greener materials, and less packaging, few thought it was possible. Yet Small & Mighty, the industry's first super-concentrated liquid detergent, launched in October 2005 in a partnership with U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), 18 months ahead of rivals such as Procter & Gamble (PG). What started as a means to boost Unilever's green credentials now is opening up avenues of innovation that are helping to drive growth in the company's once-lackluster laundry unit. Since rolling out Small & Mighty in Europe in January 2007, more than 30 million bottles have been sold.

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