Chemicals: The backbone of green cleaning

As the blog mentioned in the past, there’s no doubt that the green trend is very much prevalent within the cleaning chemicals market although they prefer to call it more as sustainability. Within my first day at the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) meeting held in Florida, a sustainability wall postered with consumer product goods and chemical companies profiling their sustainability agenda for the cleaning market, greeted my arrival when I registered for the event.

Based on several interviews this week, one theme is always remarked upon: sustainability within the cleaning market is here to stay for the long run with the chemical industry as it’s backbone.

Dow Chemical, which rolled out its second generation biodegradable surfactants this week for hard surface cleaning products (e.g. kitchen cleaners) remarked that without the chemical industry, consumers will not be able to get sustainable, eco-friendly and cost-conscious cleaning products that really works.

“When you see these companies launching these types of products such as Clorox’s GreenWorks or Church & Dwight’s concentrated Arm & Hammer Essentials Cleaner and Degreaser, you have to assume that chemical companies are behind them working to make these things happen,” says a Dow official.

Chemical companies such as US-based Dow, France-based Rhodia and France-based Evonik all noted the increasing customer demand last year for more sustainable cleaning chemicals without the previous trade-offs in performance that is usually associated with “green cleaners.”

“It has to be eco-friendly, cost competitive to traditional brands, and has comparative or even better performance or else consumers will not buy them,” another chemical company official remarked.

An official from Evonik noted the increasing drive of major consumer product goods (CPG) companies toward compacted and more concentrated laundry detergents not only in packaging but in detergent forms such as tablets or gels. Dow Chemical said that those types take serious chemical reformulations to make them work.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) officials agreed on that statement and recalled the busted launched of their detergent tablet offerings several years ago in the US.

Interests in compacted detergents have risen back because of its lesser carbon footprint – less packaging, less water use, and more energy-efficient in production and transportation, but now with the same or improved performance compared to their bulkier counterparts.

P&G said they have already saved between 25% and 40% of the packaging that they used (depending on the detergent type) when they moved all of their liquid laundry detergents in the US and Europe to compacted forms. This was made possible by serious chemical reformulation.

So I hope environmental activists can give the chemical industry some breaks and maybe even a little recognition that without them, people will not be able to maintain their health, good hygiene and cleanliness and be eco-friendly at the same time.
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5 Responses to Chemicals: The backbone of green cleaning

  1. Susie Collins 3 February, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Aloha! I think the concepts of “green chemicals” and “sustainability” are steps in a better direction, but I can’t give the chemical industry any breaks until they are held to the highest health standards. Any and all chemicals, “green” or not, used in consumer goods must be proven safe before being put on the market– that includes the manufacturing processes. As we all work to save the planet, public health must be at the forefront of the discussion, policy decision making and regulation. In addition to testing prior to sale, full disclosure of all ingredients on the box and packaging of ALL household products is a must. Anything less than that is just greenwashing. Mahalo.

  2. Mario Vellandi 3 February, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    I’m with Susie, we should hold them to the highest standards. The human and environmental health safety factors are most important to me, and still very obscure to folks. Keep up the great writing Doris!

  3. Doris 4 February, 2009 at 7:46 pm #

    Oh they (the chemical industry) know that they have several steep mountains more to climb before they can be trusted again by the public. Right now, compared to any other industries, theirs is the highest of standards that you can get. The problem is that all their products go to each and every fiber of human lives and living that just one major mistake can scar the entire industry’s reputation for centuries.

    The chemical industry is definitely trying to go in a right direction but of course sometimes it needs concerned citizens and NGOs to steer them in that direction.

    Still, not everything can be made safe even by green chemistry. Drink gallons of water and it will kill you. I agree on the disclosure of ingredients in order to inform consumers on how to handle products. I think information is key in making consumers become aware of the benefits and effects (good or bad) of the products they use.

  4. Smyrna Window Cleaning 4 June, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    Agreed! In the window cleaning business, we have to be sure that our chemicals are safe for our clients, their pets, their plants, and definitely the environment! Always err on the side of safety!

  5. Chemical Cleaning 20 May, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    the terms chemical cleaning and green sound like a contradiction in terms to me. Awesome to see an environmentally suistainable approach though.

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