Cepsa Química supplies Unilever with the world’s first renewable las surfactant, paving the way for circular chemistry

NextLab linear alkylbenzene (LAB) is the first LAB surfactant to be both renewable and biodegradable, as an alternative to the traditional fossil LAB, a surfactant used widely for cleaning and laundry products

  • Unilever is the world’s first user of NextLab linear alkylbenzene (LAB) from renewable sources in cleaning and laundry products
  • Both Cepsa Química and Unilever will continue to collaborate in exploring and incorporating sustainable solutions to their brands

Cepsa Química has supplied consumer goods leader Unilever with NextLab linear alkylbenzene (LAB), a new range of sustainable products which include renewable and recycled raw materials. This sets a new milestone for circular chemistry, as NextLab linear alkybenzene (LAB) is made using “green carbon” derived from biomass instead of the fossil fuels the industry has employed until now to make cleaning and laundry products.

Cepsa Química uses a Mass Balance approach to create NextLab. Through Mass Balance, traditional black carbon sources are blended and co-processed with those from plant-based sources, known as green carbon. Afterwards, they are tracked throughout the entire production process to ensure that an appropriate volume of the green carbon content is in the final LAS surfactant. 

This way of manufacturing surfactants is not only the most viable, short-term alternative to purely fossil-carbon derived products, but it also constitutes a vital steppingstone in the shift from petrochemical to renewable feedstocks. 

Unilever is the worlds’ first user of NextLab linear alkylbenzene (LAB), which incorporates biomass of certified origin, resulting in an LAB surfactant identical in properties and performance to traditional surfactants. The company will use NextLab to make Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate (LAS), the world’s largest-volume synthetic surfactant and its key raw material for brands such as Persil, Cif and Sunlight.

Surfactants are crucial in the making of cleaning products. However, all LAS surfactant is made nowadays from black carbon and fossil fuels. Using a LAB made from renewable biomass to produce LAS is not only a more sustainable way to produce this raw material but also helps lower the carbon footprint of the final products. 

The path to a circular chemistry

As of today, 85% of the overall carbon demand in chemical and derived materials sector is still met using fossil fuels. By offering renewable and recycled alternatives, Cepsa Química is setting the path to a circular chemistry industry while directly impacting on the planet, both in its own production process and in that of its buyers.

Unilever’s Home Care business announced last year that it will source 100% of the carbon derived from black sources in its cleaning and laundry formulations with renewable or recycled carbon  – a strategy illustrated in its Carbon Rainbow model. 

With the chemicals used in Unilever’s cleaning and laundry products making up the greatest proportion of their carbon footprint (46%) across their lifecycle, pioneering the use of innovative new chemicals made with renewable feedstocks will enable the company to unlock new ways of reducing the carbon footprint of its products. As an upstream innovation, inclusion of NextLab within formulations will result in no change to the performance of the products that consumers know and trust. 

With NextLab, Cepsa Química reinforces its commitment to go along with its customers in the development of increasingly sustainable and environmentally friendly products.


Cepsa Química, press release, 2022-07-20.


Cepsa Química


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