Afternoon Coffee: Unilever releases laundry detergent made from carbon emissions; Apple supplier Quanta Computer is hacked; New jobless claims again fall to a record low for Covid era

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Unilever released a new type of laundry capsule today that uses recycled carbon emissions to create surfactants — the ingredient in laundry detergents that creates foam and allows dirt to be washed away, according to the website Fast Company.

The laundry capsules, available from the brand Omo, launched in China today. The product resulted from a partnership between Unilever, biotech company LanzaTech and green chemical company India Glycols. LanzaTech has a commercial plant in China that turns carbon emissions from a steel mill into ethanol, which it has used to turn emissions into jet fuel and alcohol for fragrances, the article said.

How do you find the right procurement technology and vendor for your company? Spend Matters’ new 5-step “Procurement Technology Buyer’s Guide” can help — with how-to documents, checklist templates and other tips.

Unilever said the laundry capsules will be the first time a surfactant made from recycled carbon emissions will come to market in a cleaning product.

“Advancements in technology like this mean we can now reinvent the chemistry of our products,” Peter ter Kulve, President of Unilever’s home care business, said in a statement, Fast Company reported. “Instead of valuable carbon being released directly into the atmosphere, we can capture it and recycle it in our products instead of using fossil fuels.”

The launch of the laundry capsule comes on World Earth Day, which focuses on sustainability and climate change. Procurement is one business function that has taken a stronger focus on sustainability in recent years.

“This Earth Day, with the climate emergency more urgent than ever before, the business case for adopting renewable energy is clear,” Muhammad Malik, CEO and Founder of NeuerEnergy, told Spend Matters in an email. “Encouragingly, many business leaders intend to increase their long-term investments in sustainability initiatives as they grow concerned about the impact of climate change. As such, pressure will not ease on procurement teams to lead their organization to a more sustainable future that is underpinned by renewable energy.”

For more Spend Matters' sustainability coverage, visit this post with an interview from Unilever's Head of Partnerships & Social Procurement, Alexandra Tarmo, on growth and sustainability in procurement.

Hackers steal product blueprints from Apple supplier Quanta Computer

A group of hackers called REvil stole and published product blueprints of Apple products from Apple supplier Quanta Computer, according to CNBC.

REvil said it’s holding other blueprints under a $50 million ransom. The hackers reportedly published design blueprints for a new MacBook on Tuesday, when Apple held a product event for new devices.

If the hackers do have the files, it can mean that some of Apple’s hardware plans will publish before it’s ready to announce those devices. Quanta confirmed the attack to Bloomberg, CNBC reported, and said it’s working with law enforcement. The computer builder said there’s no material impact to the company’s business operation.

First-time unemployment claims register 547,000, yet another low in Covid pandemic

According to federal data released today, the number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits hit a new low during the Covid pandemic last week, with 547,000 applications, the Associated Press reports.

That makes two weeks in a row of record-low filings in the Covid era. The prior week's figure from the US Labor Department was 586,000 new claims.

Today's figures are still far above the roughly 230,000 weekly new claims that were maintained before the outbreak that wrecked the economy in March of last year.

However, about 17.4 million Americans continued to collect unemployment benefits in the week ending April 3. The unemployment rate sits at 6%, down from the pandemic peak of 14.8%.

But the lower first-time claim figure is a hopeful sign that layoffs are easing while the economy recovers from the pandemic disruption, the article said.

Weekly data on applications for unemployment benefits is seen as a rough measure of layoffs in the economy. Only people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own are eligible, the AP reported.

Check out Spend Matters’ new 5-step “Procurement Technology Buyer’s Guide.”

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