Consumers across all segments like to read product labels before purchasing. They have great expectations for ingredient transparency and would like brands to show how “clean” their labels are. We’ve seen the rise of ‘clean beauty’ transforming the personal care market. The trend has also reached home care, including laundry detergent, fabric softeners and dishwashing detergent. (Should we call it clean cleaning?) Let’s take a look at how it started and how it’s going.
In 2020, a survey by IBM and the National Retail Federation looked at consumer shopping behavior in 28 countries.
Nearly eight in 10 survey respondents said that sustainability was important. Seven in 10 said they were looking for specific attributes in their product choice, and nearly six in 10 would change their shopping habits to help reduce negative environmental impact.
What do consumers look for? Here is a partial list of issues that could be important:
Not containing chemicals harmful to my family
Not containing chemicals harmful to the environment
Free from plastics
Made from plants/vegan
Understanding of fragrance ingredients/use essential oils
Hypoallergenic/Gentle on skin
No product waste/recyclable packaging
Treatment of employees and concern for community
As we can see from the list above, the issues reflect a concern of “doing no harm” to the health of humans, animals and our waterways.
Why Biodegradability Is Central to Sustainability
Manufacturers are turning to more plant-based surfactants, enzymes and other functional materials rather than petroleum-based solutions, and more concentrated formulations for less packaging. However, ingredients also need to be biodegradable to break down rapidly in a way that is not harmful to the environment or waterways.
Researchers estimate that about eight million metric tons of waste plastic enters the ocean every year. Microplastics – those scrubbing, pearlescent and fragrance beads used to differentiate home and personal care formulations – were part of the plastic problem. They began to appear in body washes, liquid face soaps, dishwashing liquid, liquid laundry detergents and fabric softeners in the ‘70s. Consumers liked the idea of scent capsules that helped provide long-lasting freshness. Manufacturers liked that they were economical and rinsed off easily.
However, the microplastics also passed straight through wastewater treatment systems, which were not designed to filter them. Since the microplastics were not biodegradable, they tended to accumulate in waterways and could be ingested by marine life, potentially entering our food supply. Many countries now ban the use of microplastics, and the search is on for a biodegradable alternative.
CELLULON™ Cellulose Liquid: A Biodegradable Stabilizer
Any new technology to replace microplastics will require something to stabilize it in liquid formulations. CELLULON™ Cellulose Liquid may be just the hero stabilizer that formulators need. Chemically identical to plant-derived cellulose, CELLULON™ Cellulose Liquid is produced by a microbial fermentation process.
This provides several unique benefits:
- It is biodegradable and eco-friendly with a lifecycle not dependent on land and water usage
- It forms a 3D, net-like structure to easily suspend opacifiers
- High surface area-to-weight ratio
- Not sensitive to temperature, salt or pH
- Compatible with highly concentrated formulas
- Disperses easily
- Dilutes quickly
- Won’t thicken or affect pour viscosity
- Dependable, batch-to-batch repeatability for
- Low cost in use
In summary, biodegradability should be an essential part of your sustainability commitment when looking to clean up your home care formulations.