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ACI Builds Its Brand



A year after its transformation into the American Cleaning Institute, ACI executives tell members that the Institute remains dedicated to getting the job done in Washington, D.C. and around the world through an effective network of partners.



By Tom Branna, Editorial Director



Published March 4, 2011
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A year after its transformation from the Soap and Detergent Association to the American Cleaning Institute, ACI has undertaken a variety of initiatives to spread the word about the benefits of its products, its members and the organization itself. The leaders of the U.S. laundry and related industries gathered in Orlando, FL in January for the 85th Annual Meeting of the American Cleaning Institute. The event attracted nearly 700 attendees—a double digit gain over 2010 attendance figures. During the past year, ACI membership rose as well, reaching 122 companies, up from 100 a year ago.

In an issues briefing session, ACI board members reviewed several of the initiatives the Institute has undertaken during the past year. In his opening remarks, Ernie Rosenberg, president, ACI, urged attendees to get involved with Institute activities.

“We rely on members and their sweat equity,” he told those in attendance. “We need your support!”

Shell Chemical’s Robert Chouffot, the newly elected ACI chair, noted that in a 2010 survey of its members, 89% said ACI is a good value.
 

ACI continued to build its brand at the recent 2011 Convention.
“We are well positioned to work with the new Congress, but regulations continue,” warned Chouffot. “ACI is the most effective voice of the cleaning products industry,” and he noted that the ingredient disclosure program will expand and an ACI Sustainability report will debut.

A year after moving its annual meeting from Boca Raton to the Grande Lakes Orlando Resort, ACI enhanced the meeting experience with more speaker sessions, a new member reception, a hospitality bar, charity events and real time access to registration lists.

“It’s the right place for the household and industrial and institutional industry to meet on the relevant issues,” insisted Colgate’s Jack DiMaggio, chairman of the ACI convention committee. “There is a lot of return on investment and business-to-business interaction.”

The speakers who followed DiMaggio reiterated the value of ACI membership by ticking off the benefits of a host of programs and services available to members.

For example, in noting that ACI’s brand promise is“Improving Lives,” Arylessence’s Bob Sansone reviewed how the Institute is getting the word out about the benefits of ACI’s products via several partnerships with key groups including American Society for Microbiology, Centers for Disease Control and National Education Association. Moreover, through vehicles such as newsletters, websites, a national conference and other programs, ACI’s message reaches 11 million consumers.

Finally, the new “For Better Living” 30-minute video communicates how the industry contributes to society.

ACI continues to be recognized as the media’s go-to source on cleaning product industry issues and trends, according to Procter & Gamble’s Ross Holthouse of the ACI communications committee. During the past year, ACI’s outreach program extended beyond traditional media such as television, radio and print to include email, RSS feeds and social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Jack DiMaggio, Colgate-Palmolive, chairman of the ACI convention committee.

Last year, ACI was mentioned or quoted in 1,834 articles, and among analyzed articles, 97% of them were positive. Holthouse noted that there was positive coverage on the greater availability of information on cleaning product ingredients in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Baltimore Sun and The Philadelphia Inquirer as well as by the Associated Press. At the same time, ACI defended the industry’s position regarding antibacterial products and ingredients, as well as promoted the use of cleaning products through its cleaning surveys, via NBC News, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and other media outlets.


Regulation Update
AkzoNobel’s Donna Hillebold of ACI’s research, technology and regulation committee reviewed several regulatory issues that could impact the industry.

First up was the Safer Consumer Product Alternatives (AB 1879), which is part of California’s Green Chemistry Initiative (GCI). If passed, the regulation would build upon current environmental protection laws to shift the focus from cradle to grave regulation to up-front design and prevention of harm.

Since ACI began submitting comments at each step of the regulatory process, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has dramatically shifted its positions following the release of every variant to the regulations, according to Hillebold. In January, DTSC put the regulation on hold pending a meeting of the Green Ribbon Science Panel.

Also under California’s GCI, the Institute has submitted comments regarding the California Office of Environmental Health Assessment (OEHHA) Hazard Trait regulation (SB 509). If passed, the bill would require OEHHA to specify the hazard traits, environmental and toxicological end-points, and other relevant data that are to be included in the state’s Toxics Information Clearinghouse.

Shell Chemical’sRobert Chouffot ElectedChair of ACI Board

Robert Chouffot, general manager, higher olefins & derivatives at Shell Chemical LP, is the new chair of the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) board of directors. The new vice chair is Catherine Ehrenberger, vice president-R&D, quality and regulatory, Amway. Thomas O’Brien, general manager, organics, Sasol Olefins & Surfactants GmbH, is the new treasurer.

Three new members were appointed to one-year terms to fill vacancies on the board: Nancy Vincent, business director, Care Surfactants & Alcohols, North America, BASF Corp(Vincent previously was the board member from Cognis Corp., which was recently acquired by BASF); Richard Conti, chief operating officer North America Markets, SC Johnson and Craig Slavtcheff, senior vice president, R&D, quality, regulatory, The Sun Products Corporation. Other board members elected for 2011 include: Steve Tanner, president and chief executive officer, Arylessence, Inc.; Steven Cugine, executive vice president, global new product innovation, Church & Dwight Company, Inc.; Larry Peiros, executive vice president and chief operating officer, North America, The Clorox Company; Noel Wallace, president, Colgate U.S. and global sustainability, Colgate-Palmolive Company; Kevin F. Gallagher, president, Croda Inc; James L. Jackson, president, DeSoto L.L.C.; Eunice Heath, general manager, Dow Fabric & Personal Care, The Dow Chemical Company; Dr. Larry Berger, senior vice president and chief technical officer, Ecolab Inc.; Reinhold Brand, president, Evonik Goldschmidt Corporation; Greg Tipsord, senior vice president & general manager, laundry care business unit, Henkel Consumer Goods Inc.; Anders Lund, marketing director, Novozymes; Paul J. Ferrall, Jr., president, PQ Americas, PQ Corporation; Jorge Mesquita, group president-global fabric care, P&G and Tom O’Brien, general manager, organics, Sasol Olefins & Surfactants.

On the “green” front, Hillebold noted that two trends are emerging: a move from environmentally preferable products (EPPs) to sustainability and the growth of ecolabeling, where more than 500 programs are in place in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Unfortunately, according to Hillebold, both trends are confusing to consumers and industry. She noted that many labeling systems place unreasonable restrictions on ingredients such as enzymes and antimicrobials. Therefore, the challenge to industry is to convince regulators and NGOs to put sustainability ahead of single ingredient restrictions in their programs. (ACI’s position on EPPs is available online atwww.cleaninginstitute.org.)

In defense of antimicrobial ingredients, ACI met with aides to Congressman Edward Markey to discuss the very science he questioned in 2010 letters to EPA and FDA. At the same time, ACI is coordinating the industry’s response to EPA’s call for input on the safety and efficacy of triclosan.

Mike Prentiss of P&G provided an update on activities that fall under the scope of ACI’s government affairs committee. Key among these is ACI’s position that while the Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA) should be updated, industry must maintain its ability to innovate and speed products to market.

Prentiss noted that TSCA is 35 years old and needs updating, observing that REACH and the Canadian Chemical Management systems are newer models.

Neither a House (HR5820) nor Senate (S3209) bill moved last year, despite Democratic control of Congress. Prentiss called both bills detrimental to industry interests. To ensure that its voice is heard, industry formed the American Alliance for Innovation (AAI), a 100-plus trade association coalition, where ACI serves on the steering committee.

Prentiss said that he expects EPA to be challenged on its policy and practices by the Republican-controlled House.

Another area of concern for industry is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). With local governments bleeding money, they seek to shift the costs of final product and packaging disposal and recycling to manufacturers—something that NGOs have sought for years. ACI is concerned that these programs would cost product manufacturers billions of dollars and that manufacturers could be forced to support more costly systems than the ones currently in place. Once such bill is already moving forward in Vermont (H696). Supported by the beverage industry, it would repeal container deposit law in exchange for imposing EPR on all consumer package goods.

Meanwhile, in Maine, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is charged with producing a report on products to be considered for EPR treatment. Although ACI products are not addressed, the Institute monitors Maine via a multi-industry coalition.


ACI Sustainability Committee chair Bob Lindenschmidt, Procter & Gamble
Elsewhere, Rhode Island has passed a so-called “framework” that is said to be similar to Maine. Minnesota and Washington had framework legislation introduced in 2010 and ACI expects the legislation to be reintroduced. Finally, while California EPR framework proposal was defeated, targeted bills remained active in 2010.


A Definition of Sustainability
P&G’s Bob Lindenschmidt, of ACI’s sustainability committee, opened his remarks with ACI’s definition of sustainability:

“The ability to improve the quality of life for this and future generations, by creating products that promote hygiene and cleanliness, are environmentally sound, and are economically successful.”

ACI’s sustainability efforts are focused on three areas:
• Enhancing the perception of the industry and its products with the publication of a sustainability report, which was expected to be released by the end of the first quarter;
• Improving sustainability/product stewardship, perhaps by considering a charter to maintain progress (now under review); and
• External partnerships, such as a sustainability consortium and Earth911.

According to Lindenschmidt, the ACI sustainability report is focused on four specific data endpoints: CO2, greenhouse gas and global warming emissions; water usage and savings; waste reduction; and energy usage and savings.


Company Confidential
Even as industry has moved to become more transparent, NGOs and government agencies are working to expose U.S. corporate secrets for all to see, according to Don Lofty of S.C. Johnson & Son and ACI’s legal committee.

In California, a bill (SB928) on ingredient communication submitted by Sen. Joe Simitian was broadly opposed by industry because it provided inadequate protection for confidential business information and fragrances. According to Lofty, the bill may be reintroduced this year. In New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation plans to compel disclosure under a 1976 regulation that was already dismissed by the courts.

For its part, ACI plans to educate new administration appointees about the industry’s voluntary program, which ACI may enhance.

At the same time, Lofty noted that trade secrets are under attack from several sources including California Green Chemistry regulations, TSCA reform legislation and new EPA policies impacting TSCA CBI Treatment. For its part, ACI’s position is that the public’s right to know must be balanced with a right to protect innovation.

AkzoNobel’s Dale Steichen explained that federal biodiesel policies lead to the diversion of fats to fuel production. ACI’s oleochemical committee is determined to restore equitable access to animal fats market for oleochemical producers.

To achieve this goal, ACI proposes to delete “animal fats” from biodiesel credit and apportion the use of “animal fats” to assure continued supply for oleochemicals based on historical usage levels.


AkzoNobel’s Frank Sherman Honored With Distinguished Service Award

Frank Sherman, chairman of AkzoNobel Inc. and a longtime member of the American Cleaning Institute board

Frank Sherman receives the Elva Walker Spillane Distinguished Service Award from ACI Chair Bob Chouffot of Shell Chemicals.
of directors, was the 2011 recipient of ACI’s Elva Walker Spillane Distinguished Service Award.

“I’m surprised,” said Sherman in accepting the award. “I always said the award should be given to somebody who works for a living and not a board member!”

The award honors an individual for extensive or exceptional service to ACI who promoted the growth and interests of the association and the industries it represents; and who exercised outstanding leadership within ACI.

“Frank has been a passionate, dedicated, and focused leader within ACI and the industry at-large for years,” said Ernie Rosenberg, ACI president and chief executive officer.“His hard work and commitment embody what our Distinguished Service Award is all about.”

Sherman is a longtime member of ACI’s board of directors, having first been elected to the board in 2001. He served as vice chair from 2006 to 2008 and as board chair from 2008 to 2010.

“Elva was an institution of this association,” noted Sherman. “She had a huge impact.”

The Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of the late Elva Walker Spillane, the former National Purity LLC chief executive who served on the association’s board for 20 years.

It’s a Woman’s World
While the rise of the consumer is on every company’s agenda, Paco Underhill, founder, president and CEO of Envirosell, argued that the growing economic strength of women should be at the forefront of every marketer’s business plan. He noted that women out-earn men by 20% in major cities and are better educated than men—now that they represent the majority in U.S. colleges and universities. Underhill’s 2010 book, “What Women Want,” focused on how the changing status of women impacts the world in which we live.

“The nuclear family that we always built for is not part of our future,” insisted Underhill. “The way we are living is undergoing change.”

Envirosell is a consultancy that attempts to understand the nuances of human behavior. Underhill noted that less than 25% of U.S. households are the traditional, mother-father-children unit. In fact, single fathers raising children is the fastest growing family unit in the U.S., according to Underhill.

The rise of women has an impact on the cleaning industry, too.

“Cleaning is a magic word. It is transformational,” insisted Underhill. “The meaning of clean is nearly as important as the meaning of safe—that’s what makes this industry so important,” he told the audience.

While major changes have taken place in the nuclear family, things are changing at retail as well. Underhill insisted that cutting edge retail formats are found outside North America these days, and provided examples of a novel Brazilian shopping mall and even a startup gas station in Indonesia.

And while retailers everywhere are trying to educate consumers, they can’t always afford to do it at the point of sale, not when so many consumers pre-shop online or use their smart phones to get product information in-store.

“Distribution models are in flux,” Underhill warned the audience. “Are you?”


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