How Businesses See Opportunity in Safer Chemistry
The products we use every day are made from tens of thousands of chemicals, yet regulatory oversight of the health and safety of these ingredients is lacking. Research has detected a number of these ingredients in our environment, homes, and bodies. Some have been linked to disorders and disease. Consumer concern is growing. With major retailers like Walmart, Target and CVS making public commitments to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, product manufacturers are hearing loud and clear the market demand for safer chemical ingredients.
Inspiration for this Case Study Series
In putting together this case study series, EDF is showcasing suppliers who are meeting the growing demand for safer chemical ingredients in consumer products. Two companies who operate at different stages along the cleaning and personal care product value chain are featured. They are actively committing to commercializing ingredients and products that protect human health and reduce environmental impact. We explore the motivation behind their product reformulations, what the innovations allowed the companies to achieve, and the impact of these innovations on their business and sector.
In this case study we look at chemical manufacturer AkzoNobel’s work to create ingredients that have improved human health and environmental profiles. We learn how regulatory developments aided in the commercialization of AkzoNobel’s Dissolvine as a phosphate-free chelate in automatic dishwashing detergent. AkzoNobel collaborated with its customers and sought input from regulators to develop testing methods to examine Dissolvine’s biodegradability and human health profile.
In this case study, we learn about Seventh Generation’s work to replace a common surfactant used in cleaning products, Sodium Laurel Ether Sulfate (SLES). Production of SLES generates the contaminant 1,4 dioxane, a probable human carcinogen, that is then transferred to products. Seventh Generation succeeded in replacing SLES with the non-ethoxylated surfactant Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), which is not accompanied by the 1,4 dioxane contaminant. Seventh Generation’s efforts resulted in a better-performing product and maintained sales. After launch and continued public concern about 1,4 dioxane, competitors of Seventh Generation announced their own plans to reduce 1,4 dioxane in their products.