Sure It Cleans, But is It Green?

October 31, 2006

The focus is still on efficacy and value, but more customers want to know if the I&I supplies they buy are environmentally-friendly.

Sure It Cleans, But is It Green?

The focus is still on efficacy and value, but more customers want to know if the I&I supplies they buy are environmentally-friendly. A list of new ingredients from industry suppliers can be found at the end of the article.

Tom Branna
Editorial Director

Corn, soy, sugar. No, they’re not futures trading on the Chicago Board of Trade—they’re ingredients found in some of today’s industrial and institutional cleaners. Most folks probably don’t think of floor strippers as environmentally-friendly, but more government groups and school systems have issued a green mandate and Ecolab, JohnsonDiversey and other marketers are filling the need for environmentally-friendly products that still do the job when it comes to finishing floors, cleaning hard surfaces and sanitizing surfaces. In fact, nearly every finished product company told us that getting going on going green has become a No. 1 priority.

“Right now, green cleaners account for about 5% of the market,” observed Jim Beard, vice president of marketing, State Industrial. “But once the critical mass of customers gains confidence that the products really work, sales of green cleaners will take off dramatically. In general, the market will convert almost entirely to green cleaners.”

For a market that often moves in lock-step with the economy, such a dramatic change in direction will have a major impact on users, finished product companies and their suppliers. According to Kline & Co., Fairfield, NJ, U.S. sales of I&I products are approaching $9.5 billion and account for a healthy portion of global I&I sales of $22 billion. Taking a closer look at the U.S. market, Kline analyst Bruce Boynick segments the market something like this:
    • Janitorial, $3.1 billion;
    • Industrial, $2.6 billon;
    • Food Service, $1.8 billion;
    • Food Processing, $1.15 billion; and
    • Laundry, $850 million.

“It’s just been steady, moderate growth that’s tied to macroeconomics,” observed Mr. Boynick. “Food service has recorded robust growth because so much of the food dollar is being spent away from home.”

In February, Kline published the fourth edition of Food Processing Cleaning Products USA. The study examines 10 key end-use segments of the U.S. market, including dairy, meat and poultry, and beverage processing, as well as baking and retail food sanitation. It also provides an industry overview, business outlook and appraisal, and profiles of approximately 50 suppliers.
Just last month, Kline rolled out the third edition of its Janitorial and Housekeeping Cleaning Products study. It provides a complete qualitative and quantitative analysis of janitorial and housekeeping product categories and end-use markets, industry dynamics and key trends. It includes data on all distribution channels, including industrial facilities and office buildings, hospitals, lodging establishments, nursing homes, schools, recreational facilities, fast-food restaurants, full-service restaurants, colleges and universities and government facilities.  

The National Restaurant Association estimates that sales from the country’s 925,000 restaurants will top $511 billion this year, a gain of 5.1%.

At the same time, the Travel Industry Association of America expects U.S. travel expenditures to reach $683 billion this year, an increase of about 5%. TIA also notes that travel and tourism generate $1.3 trillion in economic activity every year.

All these statistics underscore the health of the food and hospitality industries. Other sectors, such as healthcare, appear to be gaining at a 3% rate, according to sources.

But regardless whether it is a fast food joint, nursing home or high school, nearly all users of I&I products are beginning to show an interest in environmentally-friendly products both in the U.S. and around the world—even as a clear-cut definition of green has yet to be developed.

 “There is enormous interest in green cleaning,” said Freek Schepers, global innovation program director, Johnson Diversey at the recent 6th World Conference on Detergents (for more on the conference, see p. 105 in this issue). “The I&I customer wants green cleaners, but he has very little concept of what green means,” he added. “At the same time, I&I manufacturers must satisfy multiple stakeholders including governments, distributors, customers and users.”

But even as regulations rise and demands for green cleaning increase, the cost for chemicals continues to run at about 5% of total I&I costs. According to Mr. Schepers, the cost breakdown is:
    • Labor, 50%;
    • Water and energy, 40%;
    • Capital investment, 5%; and
    • Chemicals, 5%.

Clearly, chemicals make up only a small fraction of overall I&I costs. Yet, I&I marketers must address cost issues if they hope to maintain customers and attract new business. Acuity Brands is aggressively tracking costs for its customers—especially small businesses, said Ross Harding, vice president of marketing.

“We’ve worked with our customers to help them economize and get the same value using less product,” explained Mr. Harding. “We have an extensive range of products with thousands of SKUs, so we can help them swap out less efficient products for even more efficient ones. ”

In recent months, Acuity has rolled out a range of new, cost-effective products and introduced a new service model to show its customers true material and labor costs and help them effectively deal with budgets.

 “Our customers must economize and we think that looking at the total cost of the solutions is the solution,” observed Mr. Harding.

That strategy helped Acuity land the Detroit Public Schools’ business. Mr. Harding explained how the Acuity team conducted audits and helped Detroit schools come up with the right product and then went out into the field to show the janitorial staff how to use it efficiently.

“You can’t just walk in, meet a spec and sell a product. It’s all value-added,” he said. “Often the customer doesn’t know what it costs to finish a floor. We’re showing them and building stronger relationships with their customers.”

Acuity is reaching out to other stakeholders as well. The company formed an alliance with Tennent, a floor equipment supplier. As a preferred partner, Acuity is able to further bundle its product and service offerings to show customers how they can clean even faster and cheaper.”

Keep It Green

Besides wrestling with costs, nearly every I&I company is rolling out a new line of environmentally-friendly cleaners and programs in an effort to attract BSC and building owners who operate under an environmentally-preferable program. State Chemical, for example, has introduced the Ecolution program.  According to Mr. Beard, Ecolution is a new Green Seal certified cleaning system.  

“We ship and dispense using our One Solution dispenser, which protects workers from contact with concentrated chemical, minimizes packaging waste and guarantees correct product dose rates,” he explained.

Acuity, on the other hand, has identified two growth areas that fall under the green umbrella—lower VOCs and organic-based solvents. The company recently rolled out an entire line of low-VOC cleaning products for floor care, all-purpose cleaning and several other categories.
“It’s a myth that a product must either be green or effective,” insisted Mr. Harding. “This line works just as well as the products they replaced.”

This year, Zep celebrated its 70th anniversary by rolling out Zep 70, a penetrant and lubricant based on soy. According to Mr. Harding, organic-based solvents and lubricants have become a basic part of the environmental equation. In the past, the company rolled out citrus-based products, but citrus is a volatile solvent and something Zep formulators wanted to avoid.

“We wanted an environmentally-friendly product that is not only petroleum-free and VOC-compliant, but actually works better,” he observed. “Right now, soy is where the action is.”

Mark Miller, Ecolab’s vice president of marketing for commercial facilities, agreed that customers are putting a lot of focus on green issues.

“Green chemistry will continue to grow and grow rapidly,” he agreed. “Now New York City and New York State, Boston, southern California and the Pacific Northwest are all taking a role in what green means, even going beyond what Green Seal suggests.”

For its part, Ecolab already offers 37 Green Seal-approved cleaners, strippers, floor cleaners, degreasers and finishes.

“The stripper is an interesting product in that it does a great job at pH7—it’s the only neutral stripper in the U.S.,” he insisted.

Other players have rolled out green cleaners of their own as well. Envirox is a relatively new player in the I&I space, but its H2Orange2 is already making significant gains in school systems—which are often the most receptive customers for green cleaners.

Meanwhile, Spartan continues to expand its bio offerings that are based on corn and soy.

“We do quite a bit of work with the U.S. government and they are mandating the use of these materials to promote farming and conserve petroleum,” explained Mary Grace Miller, Spartan’s vice president of marketing. “We were the first major manufacturer to talk about green products and now we’re doing the same thing with bio.”

Spartan markets the line under the Biorenewable brand. The seven-item line includes glass cleaners, restroom cleaners, multipurpose cleaners and foaming hand cleaners.

Another element of Spartan’s environmental initiative was the September rollout of a cleaner designed specifically for waterless urinals. The company partnered with two key urinal manufacturers—Sloan and Falcon Water-Free—to develop a product designed specifically to their specifications.

“We designed a product that is surfactant-free so it won’t damage the membrane that is critical to the waterless urinal function,” explained Ms. Miller. “Water conservation is becoming a major issue in the U.S. and we’re one of the first companies to pick up on it.

“Spartan is becoming leading edge. We see markets that others don’t pick up on.”

Last month, JohnsonDiversey announced that its Healthy High Performance Cleaning System is the first cleaning system to achieve certifications from GreenGuard, an industry-independent, third-party organization. According to JohnsonDiversey, its products and tools were tested and certified based on both Greenguard low-emitting product certifications, including GreenGuard for Children and Schools.

“GreenGuard is complementary with environmentally preferable product certifications, such as Green Seal,” said Daniel A. Daggett, Ph.D., group leader, global product safety, JohnsonDiversey. “That’s because it goes beyond products and actually looks at how the cleaning process affects indoor air quality. Just using Green Seal-certified products is not enough because the products can be misused and impact indoor air quality.”

The GreenGuard Environmental Institute is an organization that oversees the certification program to improve public health and quality of life through programs that improve indoor air. The Institute notes that most people spend 90% of their time indoors. Poor IAQ can cause asthma and other allergies, which can result in lost productivity costs estimated at more than $120 billion annually.

Looking Elsewhere for Growth

Although marketers agree that green cleaning is a trend that runs across all I&I product categories, they remained mixed on what segments they’ll be emphasizing during the next year. Acuity, for example, is focusing on floor care, both for carpets and hard surfaces. Acuity recently introduced systems with good stain resistance and durability to help its customers keep labor costs in check.

Market leader Ecolab, too, is putting more emphasis on floor care. At last month’s International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) conference and exhibition, Ecolab rolled out Bright Effects, a floor care system for retailers to help give stores floor a lighter, brighter look and extend gloss life.

“Retailers know that how clean the floor looks makes the biggest impact on their customers,” explained Mr. Miller. “That’s how we approach floor care and we offer a nice bundled program to improve a floor’s appearance.”

Ecolab’s offerings include Bright Effects finish, high gloss and bright neutral cleaner, Bright Blast stripper and Bright Rinse neutralizer.

“The most exciting item in the line is the Bright Star product because it delivers the lightening and brightening that consumers wanted,” recalled Mr. Miller.

The launch is a change in how many I&I marketers approach floor care, according to the Ecolab executive. Too often, the emphasis is on high gloss and shine, but customers kept talking about clean. After introducing a broad range of cleaners, retailers still weren’t satisified and that’s when Ecolab went back and asked them what they mean by “clean.”

“Clean often means lighter and brighter to the customer,” explained Mr. Miller. “Bright Effects meets their needs, which have always been there, but we never interpreted the data correctly. We just missed it as an industry.”

At last month’s ISSA show, Ecolab added Bright Break stripper that promises to remove multiple coats of finish in just a single pass, which is expected to dramatically improve productivity. Taken together, the line could actually help retailers reduce maintenance costs because they extend the life of the floor and eliminate some daily floor care costs.

“So instead of lasting three months, a floor can last five months, that means retailers will only have to strip a floor two times a year,” explained Mr. Miller. “It’s all about productivity, so that as budgets get squeezed, retailers can still maintain the look.”

Demand for environmentally-friendly products may continue to grow, but successful marketers will combine green ideas with value.

I&I Products New Ingredients

Here’s a list of new ingredients for industrial and institutional cleaners that have been introduced by suppliers during the past 12 months.To find out more about any of the products listed here, contact the supplier directly at the number provided.

CBC (America) Corp.

Commack, NY
Tel: 631-864-9700
Email: jshimoaka@cbcamerica.com
Website: www.cbcamerica.com


Description: 3-methyl-3-methoxy-bu- tanol
Applications: all-purpose cleaners (electronics, flux remover, fountain solution, institutional, industrial, household, degreaser, etc)
Comments: M.M.B. has various advantageous properties that are friendly to environment and facility workers. Those properties are low toxicity, low flash point, low odor, biodegradable, soluble to oil and water, high compatibility with organic solvent and plastics (resins), best alternative to fluorocarbon and chlorinated solvent and stability in emulsion and at extreme temperature. M.M.B. is TSCA listed.


Description: Methyl-3-methoxypropionate
Applications: Cleaner for electronics industry, photo resist remover
Comments: M3MP is TSCA listed. 

Ciba Specialty Chemicals

High Point, NC
Tel: 336-801-2112
Email: karla.wilzer@cibasc.com

Ciba Magnafloc APC

Description: Nonionic soil management polymer
Applications: Dilutable and non-dilutable all-purpose cleaners as well as cleaning wipes for both the I&I and consumer industries
Use levels: 0.05-0.5% application dependent
Comments: Management polymer specifically designed for use in dilutable and non-dilutable liquid hard surface cleaners as well as wipes. For bucket applications, Magnafloc APC quickly flocculates suspended soils thereby extending the useful life of the cleaning solution and minimizing re-deposition of soil on cleaning appliances and surfaces. Thus Magnafloc APC reduces cleaning time and costs. For bucketless applications such as wipes, Magnafloc APC improves the cleaning efficiency of the wipes thereby leaving surfaces cleaner and shinier.

Ciba Tinosan SDC-R

Description: Silver dihydrogen citrate
Applications: Hard surface antimicrobial cleaners and disinfectants for I&I and consumer applications
Use levels: 0.1-0.5%
Comments: Ciba Tinosan SDC-R is an EPA-registered silver-based antimicrobial.  It is a colorless, water-soluble, fast-acting antimicrobial that is effective against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria as well as certain fungi. Tinosan SDC-R exhibits good compatibility with non-ionic and anionic surfactants.  Based on the EPA toxicity categorization of antimicrobial products, at use dilutions, Tinosan SDC-R is rated in the lowest toxicity category, IV. This material (Tinosan SDC) is also approved for use as a preservative in  personal care products as well as a deodorant active in the U.S.

Ciba Tinotex 4023

Description: Emulsion of polydimethylsiloxane
Applications: Laundry care, rinse conditioners
Use levels: 0.2-2% application dependent
Comments: The use of fabric softeners in the laundry process can reduce the hydrophilicity of fabrics. Ciba Tinotex 4023 is specifically designed to enhance the hydrophilicity of both cotton and synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, polyamide and blends. When used in rinse conditioners, Tinotex 4023 improves the breathability of fabrics by absorbing and transporting moisture away from the body for a dry, comfortable and fresh feel for the consumer.

Cognis Corporation

Ambler, PA
Tel: 215-628-1437
Website: www.Cognis.com

Dehypound Advanced

Description: Nonionic surfactant blend
Applications: All-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, floor cleaner, bathroom cleaner, aqueous degreaser, metal cleaner
Use levels: 1% active for RTU products
Comments: This “Green” alternative for all types of hard surface cleaner cleans better than NP-9 or LAE-6EO without the use of solvents or builder, thus making it a viable replacement for formulations requiring Green Seal or DfE certification.
This product is not improved if a glycol ether is added.

Arlypon VPC

Description: Surfactant blend
Applications: Thickener for all types of acid formulations
Use levels: 1-5%
Comments: Arlypon VPC can be used to thicken acids such as hydrochloric, phosphoric, sulfamic, lactic, citric and glycolic. It also provides improved soil removal and fragrance solubilization. It has no gel phase and a pour point of 41°F making for simplified production.  There is no need for secondary viscosity adjustments just combine water, acid, Arlypon VPC

Polyquart Pro

Description: Aqueous solution of an acrylic copolymer
Applications: Additive for cleaners having a pH of <0.5 to 14 providing better gloss and easy to reclean benefits.
Use levels: 0.45% as is or 0.1% active
Comments: One polymer for the entire pH spectrum. This smart polymer provides sheeting action for spotless cleaning. The polymer that remains on the surface keeps dirt from sticking saving time and effort for all subsequent cleaning.

Croda Inc

Edison, NJ
Tel: 732-417-0800
Website: www.crodausa.com

Crodaquat SRS

Description: Proprietary
Applications: Hard surface cleaners, anti-stat cleaners, multipurpose cleaners, vehicle cleaners
Use levels: 1-10%
Comments: Cationic/nonionic blend for soil removal systems. Provides excellent cleaning, has great anti-stat characteristics, and is compatible with other ionic products and builders.

Primasurf SC-50

Description: Proprietary
Applications: Hard surface cleaners, multipurpose wipes, I&I cleaners, hand laundry detergent
Use levels: 1-10 %
Comments: Biodegradable, mild anionic/nonionic system with effective cleaning performance.


Wilmington, DE
Tel: 866-828-7009
E-mail: zonyl@usa.dupont.com
Website: www.dupont.com/zonyl


Description: Fluorosurfactant
Applications: Wetting and leveling agent for floor waxes, surfactant for all types of cleaning
Use levels: 0.01-0.1%
Comments: Introducing three new grades of fluorosurfactants that use six carbon fluorochemistry. These products include Zonyl FS-500, FS-510, and 1033D.  DuPont also offers three Zonyl Fluorosurfactant grades that pass OECD 301B requirements for detergents, Zonyl FSA, FSE and FS-300.


Wilmington, DE
Tel: 800-231-0998
E-mail: nisp@invista.com


Description: Dibasic ester-low vapor Pressure (mixture of dimethyl glutarate and dimethyl adipate).
Applications: Cleaning ingredient for nail polish, adhesive, paint, and graffiti removers, hand cleaners, spot removers, floor maintenance products and micro-emulsions.
Use levels: application dependent
Comments: Meets consumer products LVP-VOC exemption criteria established by CARB for consumer and institutional products. Meets the U.S. federal VOC exemption criteria for consumer products per the EPA 40 CFR 59.203(f)1. Properties of DBE-LVP include high solvency power and compatibility with other solvents; mild, fruity odor; non-corrosive and non-flammable; readily biodegradable.

Kingsfield Inc.

Old Tappan, NJ
Tel: 201-767-0414
E-mail: ryanchoi@kingsfieldinc.com
Website: www.kingsfieldinc.com
or www.chem-world.com


Description: Urea hydrogen peroxide
Applications: Bleaching agent, antisepic and disinfectant
Comments: Compared with hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, it offers many advantages including a more excellent sterilizability, broader disinfect spectrum, lower concentration and free of residual poison.


Cleveland, OH
Tel: (216) 447-5000
E-mail: Jeffrey.carey@noveon.com
Website: www.homecare.noveon.com

Carbopol Aqua 30 Polymer

Description: Aqueous acrylate emulsion
Applications: Hard surface cleaners, fabric pre-treatments and liquid laundry detergents
Use levels: 3 to 9%
Comments: Carbopol Aqua 30 Polymer is a liquid rheology modifier designed for use in surfactant-based detergents which provides no-drip properties, improved spray properties and increased stability.

Carbopol EZ-4 Polymer

Description: Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer
Applications: Hard surface cleaners, fabric pre-treatments and liquid laundry detergents
Use levels: 0.2 to 1%
Comments: Carbopol EZ-4 Polymer is a powdered rheology modifier designed for use in surfactant based detergents which provides no-drip properties, improved spray properties and increased product stability.

Seppic, Inc.

Fairfield, NJ
Tel: 973-882-5597, ext. 212
Website: www.seppic.com

Solagum USPI

Description: Acrylic polymer
Applications: Thickening and/or emulsifying cleaners (hard surface, glass, janitorial) and polishes (wood, metal, leather, automotive including tire treatments)
Use levels: 1% (+ or -)
Comments: Liquid form, easy to use, shear-thinning, stable in 2-12 pH range, low shear, cold process, no chemical or pH adjustments needed, makes very stable emulsions. Eliminates many thickening and emulsification issues.

Simulsoló SL 826

Description: Alkylpolyglucoside
Applications: hand dish, car wash, any application where high foam, solubilizing and detergent properties are required.
Use levels: 5% or less
Comments: Readily biodegradable, Green Seal-ready, high foam stability, nonionic, compatible and synergistic with other surfactants, happy in high pH products, no cloud point, good wetting and surface penetrating, non-streaking,  leaves “sugar-shine.”

Simulsoló SL FR 520

Description: Alkylpolyglucoside
Applications: Low foam cleaners: floor, high energy laundry, industrial bottle wash, metal working.  FR 520 is a foam reducer.
Use levels: 3% or less
Comments: Readily biodegradable, Green Seal-ready, nonionic, compatible, foam reducing and synergistic with other surfactants, happy in high pH products, no cloud point, good wetting and surface penetrating, non-streaking, leaves “sugar-shine.”

Spectra Colors Corp.

Kearny, NJ
Tel: 800 527-8588
E-mail: caputo@spectracolors.com
Website: www.spectracolors.com

Spectra WD

(Washable - nonstaining colorants)
Description: Proprietary/non-hazardous chemistry
Applications: Detergents, cleaners, children’s products, writing instruments, specialty coatings
Use levels: 0.1-5% (depending on the type of application)
Comments: The Spectra WD products are bright, clean, washable non-staining colorants. They are used in aqueous environments, are environmentally safe and non-flammable. 

Spectrawhite 20B Liquid

Description: Fluorescent optical brightener
Applications: Detergents, cleaners, specialty coatings, specialty inks
Use levels: 0.1-3% (depending on the type of application)
Comments: Spectrawhite 20B Liquid is an aqueous based optical brightener, exhibiting high levels of fluorescence at low concentration levels. It is economical, environmentally safe and non-hazardous.

Spectra pH Sensitive Dyes

Description: Proprietary/non-hazardous chemistry
Applications: Detergents, cleaners, children’s products, writing instruments, specialty coatings
Use levels: 0.1-5% (depending on the type of application)
Comments: Spectra pH Sensitive Dyes have the unique ability to change color based on pH environment. Can be used for a host of specialty applications.  Consult Spectra technical staff for the correct product for your application.


Northfield, IL
Tel: 847-446-7500
Website: www.stepan.com

Steposol SB-W

Description: soybean derived bio-solvent
Applications: waterless hand cleaner, adhesive remover, floor scrubber, mold release, lacquer thinners, form release agent, hood/grill oven cleaner, ink remover
Comments: Contains no petroleum ingredients; superior lubricating agent; replacement for many solvents such as naphtha and mineral spirits. Product is biodegradable.

Steposol DG

Description: surfactant blend of alcohol ethoxylate and cationic surfactants.
Applications: cleaner and degreaser
Comments: As a solvent replacement and in water-based cleaning and degreasing formulations.

Steposol SC

Description: a blend of soya and corn esters
Applications: Varnish and graffiti remover, waterless hand cleaner, concrete cleaner, printing ink cleaner, grease trap cleaner, brake cleaner, carbon remover, parts washer solvent, adhesive remover.
Comments: A solvent replacement; excellent solvency.