Snippets from Seventh Generation interview

This week is going to be tough given that a) it is a short week, b)I have two feature articles that I’m working on with deadline next week, c) I have two school exams this week.

I am also preparing for next week’s Green Chemistry Panel Discussion on March 3, which I will be co-moderating. Before my brain shuts down from overloaded information, let me post this “better-late-than-never” videos that I took from the recent American Cleaning Institute (ACI) meeting.

The first video is from my interview with Seventh Generation’s Martin Wolf, director of product and environmental technology. The company’s long-term goal is to ultimately use100% renewable-based chemicals and materials for its products. But of course, that is easier said than done especially when it comes to laundry detergents. Seventh Generation is using 100% renewable materials for its spray cleaners (which are easier to formulate as their ingredients are not as complex).

Wolf actually noted that the company does not have any problem using petroleum-based chemicals except for the fact that petroleum is being used unsustainably in the fuel industry. 

“If they are not burned, there’ll be plenty of supply of these materials,” he said.

For renewable-based surfactants, Wolf is giving credits to companies such as Cognis, Clariant, Croda, AkzoNobel, Evonik, etc., who are continuously developing these alternatives.

“It is becoming easier for us to increase the use of chemicals with renewable content with the same performance, properties and at a right price,” said Wolf.

Seventh Generation also credits itself as well as consumer products companies who are forcing the chemical supply chain to rethink their profitability strategy and put sustainability in this equation. Wolf cited an example where eight years ago, the company is looking for palm-based surfactants that do not contain certain levels of 1,4 dioxane, a byproduct that can form in trace or miniscule amounts within sulfation process of alcohol ethoxylates.

“There were only two companies that met our specification – one in India and the other in the US. Today we have our choice of half a dozen. Our success has forced the supply chain to take a harder look at what they’re doing and to increase the sustainability and reduce the hazardous ingredients of their products,”  said Wolf.

Seventh Generation said it is still a challenge for them to find availability of renewable-based surfactants. The company currently does not use phosphates, chlorine, dyes, optical brighteners and chemicals with VOCs in their cleaning products.

More information from my video interview below:

By the way, here is also an interview I did talking to American Cleaning Institute’s VP of communications Brian Sansoni. The organization has been very active last year in Congress on their stand about the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and California’s Green Chemistry Initiative, among other pending government/state rules and regulations that will affect their industry. You can read more about it on ICB’s recent interview article with ACI president Ernie Rosenberg.

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