Consumer demand for “green” detergents is on the rise, and the high demand is reflected in sales. From 2016 to 2018, “green” detergent sales have grown steadily with 47% by volume per year . These are encouraging signs that consumers recognize and value a sustainable product, and that industry actors, from raw material suppliers to retailers, are ready to meet this demand. Yet, most consumers do not want to compromise on the cleaning performance level they are accustomed to, and today, buying green products most often comes with a performance compromise. In a recent consumers study by Cleancult, most millennial consumers question the cleaning power of “green” detergents, saying, “I’m happy that they’re environmentally friendly but they just don’t work as well.”  Consumer report tests mirror these sentiments as 83% of “Green” detergents rank in the bottom half of performance rankings. This underlines the need for further innovation to be able to meet the demands for sustainability and performance alike.
Enzymes: nature’s building blocks for sustainable, high performing detergents
Biotech is already at work delivering savings on natural resources and can reduce the usage of harsh chemicals. In villages, towns and cities around the world, enzymes are at this moment transforming the way people clean their clothes and dishes, freeing up time and energy for life. As an example, it is common for many African and Asian families to do laundry by hand five to six times weekly, often with each wash requiring up to six buckets of water. By switching from surfactants and harsh chemicals to enzymes, these families can use less water, energy and effort and get cleaner clothes . The use of enzymes brings a broad range of benefits that speak to consumer sustainability, all while allowing detergent producers to save costs while delivering improved cleaning performance.
What is in the future for sustainable detergents?
All things equal, cleaning performance will remain the key purchase criterion for the mass segment. At the same time there is increased demand for sustainable products . At Novozymes, we believe that detergents that are both effective, safe and sourced from nature are the solution that both the detergent industry and consumers are looking for. That is why we work closely with our partners to reduce chemicals that stress the environment and may be perceived as harmful ingredients by consumers, replacing them with existing and future biotechnology solutions. As we rethink what tomorrow’s detergent formulations will be, we have three guiding principles that the detergents of tomorrow must uphold:
Enable a great cleaning experience - because consumers don’t want to compromise on the basic performance of their product
Improve the formulation cost equation - because soapers cannot add more cost to their formulations and price volatility of chemical feedstock is high
Cater to a greener planet – because consumers have developed a preference for green products and companies are audited by their customers on their sustainability profile
We have come a long way, but our goal is not yet met. Together with global partners, we continue the work towards detergents with a much-reduced environmental footprint. We hereby invite you to join us in shaping the future of clean.
As we considered this sustainable vision for the future, we began to ask ourselves: What might such a detergent look like? Simply having this sustainable vision for the future of detergents wasn’t enough. We wanted to give you a preview of what it could look like if manufacturers embraced the challenge to create truly green detergents. With a 10x concentration, our biological prototype requires less resources, is 100% biodegradable and has a lower environmental impact.
The formula is eligible for certification under the following systems: USDA Certified biobased product, National Eczema association, US EPA Safer Choice, Green America certified, USDA BioPreferred, Bio-degradable formulation, Septic-tank and grey water system friendly.
Novozymes prototype is made without: Optical Brighteners, Dyes, Synthetic Fragrances, Formaldehyde Donors, MIT/BIT preservatives (Methylisothiazolinones). It contains no artificial fragrance, colors or preservatives.
Our prototype shows on par or better cleaning performance
Performance by stain type
Our prototype has less ingredients with less impact on the planet
As a prototype, this is not a “ready-to-commercialize” formula.
While the ingredient composition is utmost sustainable, we were not able to achieve as high a level in the packaging. Nevertheless, the bottle is made of recyclable HDPE plastic.
[For future iterations, we would go with 100% recyclable bioplastic, or 100% biodegradable packaging stock.]
This is not the most-economical version – this is due to the fact that bio-based ingredients are in many cases more expensive that petro-based (synthetic) alternatives.
Feeling inspired? Together we can make this dream a reality.