Unilever's Port Sunlight laboratories to be awarded Chemical Landmark status

29 March 2011

The achievements of a century of scientific research  into consumer products will be marked tomorrow (Wednesday 30 March) at Unilever's research and development laboratories in Port Sunlight. 

A plaque awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) will be unveiled at its Wirral site, where the work of scientists has kept the company's household-name products at the forefront of innovation.

This year marks the centenary of the first purpose-built research and development laboratory on the Port Sunlight site. The R&D community moved into a new facility in the 1960s and around 750 employees work there today, developing new technologies for the consumer needs of tomorrow.

From its beginnings, Port Sunlight has been involved in developing products that have changed consumers' lives, including brands such as Sunlight soap and Lifebuoy which continue to be instrumental in reducing mortality rates through germ prevention.

Port Sunlight is also responsible for many of the breakthrough innovations which have resulted in improving the life of consumers, from Persil's "Small & Mighty" concentrated laundry detergent to hair conditioning technology in Dove and Sunsilk shampoo.

Many of the scientists are now looking on how to deliver Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, which outlines its vision to double the size of the company while reducing its environmental impact.

RSC President Professor David Phillips said today: "Unilever is one of the great British success stories. Most of us use its products every day without any thought for the science that goes into making them effective and safe. 

"By awarding an RSC landmark plaque we are paying tribute not just to the science that has been performed at Port Sunlight. We are also commemorating the contribution that all its staff have made over 100 years to making us healthier and cleaner"

Dr Mike Parkington, Unilever Port Sunlight Director of Laboratory said: "We are delighted to receive this fantastic recognition from the RSC. For a century Unilever scientists at Port Sunlight have been innovating with cutting edge science to create new products which, in small but significant ways, improve the lives of our consumers whether they live in developed countries like the UK, or developing and emerging markets such as the China and India.  

"This proud tradition of scientific excellence remains at the heart of our research and development today as we look to help company deliver its ambitious vision of doubling the size of the company while reducing its environmental impact."

The plaque, to be unveiled at a 1.15pm ceremony, reads:

'Unilever Research & Development Port Sunlight Laboratory: In recognition of the outstanding scientific contribution to the home and personal care industry made by Unilever Port Sunlight's laboratory since 1911.  100 years on, the people on site continue to deliver innovative products to enhance the lives of billions of consumers around the world.'

Other RSC landmarks plaques awarded in the North-West are: 

AstraZeneca, Alderley Park 
22 September 2008. AstraZeneca, Alderley Park. In recognition of over 50 years of chemical drug discovery at Alderley Park.

John Dalton Cottage, Eaglesfield, Cumbria 
7 June 2007. Birthplace of John Dalton who revolutionised Chemistry through his Atomic Theory published in 1803.

Hexagon site - over 200 years of dyestuffs production and development 
31 July 2006, Hexagon Site, Blackley, Manchester

Discovery of polyethylene 
4 November 2004, Winnington Hall, Northwich, Cheshire

Contact and Further Information

Press Office
Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BA
Tel: +44 (0)1223 432294
Fax: +44 (0)1223 426594