Notable Advances in Green Chemistry with DuPont

Smithers: What are the most notable advances in green chemistry that are affecting the cleaning products industry?  What is DuPont doing to respond to these innovations?

Todd Krieger: It is not enough to be high-performing in today’s cleaning products industry. Consumers also demand more sustainable solutions. But it is also true to say products with low environmental impacts won’t be adopted if they don’t perform as well or better than more traditional offerings. To address sustainability, the cleaning products industry shows trends in both compaction & cold-water cleaning. Concentrated products that use less energy, but still get things clean are in high demand.  

DuPont Industrial Biosciences is well positioned to deliver innovative solutions for both trends.  Enzyme chemistry can be considered a poster child for green chemistry, addressing most of the 12 principles of green chemistry, including catalysis, use of renewable feedstocks, and design for energy efficiency, to name a few. We have renewable and bio-degradable enzyme solutions that enable concentrated formulations; both improving stability and allowing for reduction of more hazardous formulation ingredients. We have others which provide superior ability to remove tough stains at cold temperatures. In addition, DuPont Industrial Biosciences has demonstrated commercial success in sustainable bio-based materials having won a Presidential Green Chemistry Award from the EPA for the development of bio-based 1,3-propanediol. We are eager to employ this expertise in developing bio-based material solutions for the cleaning industry.

Smithers: What are the biggest sustainability challenges we are currently facing in the household and cleaning products industry?  What do you see happening in the industry to address these challenges?

Todd Krieger: We are all striving to provide products with reduced environmental footprints, but to be truly sustainable, these environmental solutions must come with equal or enhanced performance. Solutions must seek the optimum balance of Sinner’s circle – chemical action, mechanical action, temperature, and time.

However, life cycle assessment has shown that most of the environmental burdens of cleaning occur during use – such as heating the water for laundry. So, even if new sustainable solutions are commercialized, we must still change consumer behavior to reap the benefits.  This requires both enticing the consumer to buy your product and convincing them to change their cleaning habits.

Smithers: How do you see the industry coming together to tackle these challenges?

Todd Krieger: The consumer education will require partnerships across the industry; Ingredient suppliers, brands, retailers, and machine manufacturers must all work together to address all aspects of the Sinner’s circle to drive to more sustainable solutions and then work together to educate consumers. Messaging from all angles will be needed, supported by Industry groups like the ACI.

Smithers: What are you hearing about most from your customers (for example, CPGs) in terms of industry focus and asks?

Todd Krieger: Here at DuPont Industrial Biosciences, we hear from customers wanting to move to biotechnology to produce materials they need in a more sustainable way; i.e. through lower water use or lower cleaning temperatures.  But they won’t sacrifice performance. They want to reduce energy and impacts, but if the clothes or dishes aren’t clean, they won’t convert.

Smithers: Why is this event important to the cleaning products industry?

Todd Krieger: This event allows for networking and enables partnerships to blossom. Communication across the industry is important to make sure ingredient suppliers are developing the right functionality to meet brand owner needs and machine designers are developing features to take full advantage of these new functional improvements – and vice versa.

Smithers: What does DuPont hope to achieve and what can we see happening over the next few years with regards to the future of cleaning products?

Todd Krieger: DuPont Industrial Biosciences is constantly striving to create products with increased efficacy to meet or exceed our customer’s expectations. We look forward to drawing from our collective expertise in enzymes, bio-polymers, and microbial control to develop new product offerings to address both current and future unmet needs in the cleaning industry.