New Faces in Familiar Places

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | March 1, 2017

The American Cleaning Institute officially welcomed its new president.

The American Cleaning Institute’s 91st annual meeting and industry convention welcomed a new president and CEO, Melissa Hockstad, who comes to ACI with extensive experience in the trade association and industry arenas, according to the Institute.

“This was my first ACI Convention since joining the association,” noted Hockstad. “Everything I saw and heard from our members just crystalized for me how valuable and beneficial the event is for the entire cleaning products supply chain.”

Despite changes at the top of the Association, members remained pleased with the results of ACI’s efforts. Bill Littlefield, 2016 board vice chair, noted that 93% of members surveyed said ACI delivers good value.

One measure of how much members value its association is attendance at the annual meeting. These year’s event drew more than 960 attendees, an increase over last year.

Another measure of that value is how ACI works in Washington DC. During the meeting, ACI staff and committee members updated attendees on a variety of issues including the triclosan ban, sustainability efforts, chemical management and consumer outreach. The session underscored how the industry can work together to resolve mutually critical issues. Teamwork is essential for a company and its trade organization. For an airline crew, it can mean the difference between life and death.

A Method to the ‘Miracle’

The emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in New York City on Jan. 15, 2009, was no miracle. According to Co-Pilot Jeff Skiles, the event which resulted in no fatalities nor major injuries was the result of careful training of the pilots, the crew and air traffic control—regardless of how well they know each other.

“Our training enables us to act as team,” explained Skiles. “In fact, I didn’t know Sully at all before that day.”

In a gripping narrative, Skiles explained to ACI Convention attendees how proper training kept 150 passengers, five crew members and New Yorkers on the ground, safe that day. 

“It was a nice day. I looked up the Hudson and all was clear,” he recalled. “At 3,000 feet, we started to accelerate.”

That’s when a flock of geese appeared, too late to avoid them.

“It sounded like hail hitting the aircraft,” Skiles recalled.

The engines “ingested” two birds each, and one second later, both engines lost thrust still at just 3,000 feet.

Skiles had been operating the Airbus A320-214, but Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger assumed command with a simple order, “My aircraft.”

“I replied, ‘your aircraft,’ and I had no problem with that,” he joked.

The Airbus was losing altitude at a rate of 1,000 feet a minute, leaving no time to get to LaGuardia or Teterboro airports. Sully made the decision to try a soft landing in the Hudson River. 

Skiles recalled that in 1980s and 1990s, airline training and reporting procedures could be haphazard. US Airways alone had five fatal crashes over the course of five years.

In the 1990s, regulators instituted Cockpit Resource Management (CRM), which was designed to break down barriers between pilots, crews and airport personnel, enabling team building and team members to value one another. Today, both pilots fly the plane, perform cross-checks and brief one another.

“We are evaluated as a team,” he explained. “This enables us to track mistakes and self-report.”

If a pilot or another crew member makes an error, if reported, there are no penalties for the infraction. Skiles credited CRM with saving the lives of 155 people that day. He also credited the actions of veteran flight attendants Sheila Dail, Doreen Welsh and Donna Dent for getting every passenger to safety.

In fact, eight stalwarts rebooked their flights and traveled on to Charlotte, NC the same day!

Global Regulatory Outlook

It’s a Small World after all—and not because the meeting took place in Orlando, just miles from Walt Disney World. The world is indeed getting smaller, based on talks from international association presenters at the global industry update portion of the annual meeting and industry convention. That’s because whether member companies are based in Europe, Latin America, Asia or North America, they face many of the same issues.

“Regulations are easily metastized across the world,” noted Ernie Rosenberg, president emeritus, ACI. “When we cooperate, it is a core strength and helps anticipate what may be coming down the pike.”

And industry ultimately pays a heavy price if they don’t cooperate. For example, Susanne Zanker of AISE (International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products) said the overall legislative cost for the detergent and maintenance products industry in her region is €670 million, which is equal to 33.4% of the sector’s profits. Among the emerging issues that AISE faces, two of them, the phase out of microbeads/microplastics and fragrance/ingredients transparency, are issues that are roiling markets around the world.

“We want better regulations that are smarter and harmonized,” she said. “To do that, we must collaborate with other associations.”

Still Zanker noted that AISE is making good progress in a number of areas. In product safety, the DetNet initiative now has 230 users and more than 1000 products have been reclassified with DetNet data. The program includes more than 220 reference formulas (primarily laundry, hand dishwash and all-purpose cleaners)—and more are being added.

“Teamwork across the value chain is needed,” observed Zanker. “We need to build trust with consumers.”

To accomplish that, AISE is focused on promoting the benefits of hygiene and cleanliness and developing safe-use communication to end-users with label information that is understandable and readable. AISE is out front on environmental issues, too, according to Zanker. Marking its 10th Anniversary, AISE’s Charter for Sustainable Cleaning has 234 members, representing more than 90% of the cleaning market. The program has led to a 30% reduction in energy use and a 25% cut in carbon dioxide emissions. Looking ahead, AISE has formed a packaging task force to identify waste and find opportunities in a circular economy. Under development are guiding principles for bio-based materials and CSR Guidance.

The Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association has one year under its belt working with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party government. CCSPA president Shannon Coombs noted that the 200 of the 338 members of Parliament are new to their posts as well.

“We spent 2016 getting to know the new government,” said Coombs. “One measure of our success is that our industry was not affected by any government audits.”
But Coombs expects regulatory oversight will increase, as will mandatory ingredient labeling pressure from ENGOs.

To keep at least some of these outside influences at bay, Coombs urged industry to get involved with Canada’s Chemical Management Plan. CMP3 began a year ago, and there are 1551 substances (500 of which are in cleaning products) to review and assess by 2020.

“It includes many business-critical substances,” she warned. “You will need to know Canadian CMP—the lists, the review processes and the regulators.”

South of the US border, Carlos Bernzunza of the Mexican Personal Care and Home Care Industry Association (CANIPEC), noted that there are many challenges ahead, what with US President Donald Trump talking about reworking NAFTA, Brazil’s struggling economy and recent changes in Argentina. To overcome these challenges, like the speakers before and after him, Bernzunza called for better communication among associations, agreeing and promoting best practices on a global basis, keeping focused on sound science and risk-based regulations and actively engaging consumers. To spread the word about the proper use of products, the association has created www.canipec.org.mx/consumoinformado.

Japan’s population has been declining for years, yet cleaning product sales continue to grow, observed Tsutomu Katagiri, senior managing director, Japan Soap and Detergent Association (JSDA). Like other associations, JSDA focused on safety and environmental issues in 2016; i.e, creating safety icons for cleaning products (which will be introduced in January 2018), voluntarily reducing plastic in its packaging, voluntarily regulating triclosan (following USFDA action) and creating a Clean Campaign to educate consumers, especially children, about the importance of hand hygiene.

While Japan struggles with a shrinking population, India’s population continues to grow and has helped the soap and detergent market there increase 8-9% a year for several years, according to Sanjay Trivedi of the Indian Home & Personal Care Industry Association.

“India is challenging, but growing,” he told the audience.

Key drivers of this growth include rural consumption, product innovation, price, energy and water savings and digital marketing.

Still, there have been problems. The government’s drive to eliminate high-value currency led to a pause in India’s growth story, although observers expect the declines to be short-lived. However, the implementation of a goods-and-services tax will change the way India does business forever, he predicted.

Finally, Brownyn Capanna, executive director, Accord Australasia, noted that Australia’s economy grew just 1.8% last year and asked, “we are only 2.16% of the world’s economy, why do we have so many regulations?”

Over-regulation leads to higher costs and barriers to innovation and investment, she charged. Moreover, industry has had to deal with frequent political leadership changes, including four prime ministers since 2010. As a result Accord has developed two strategies:
  • Innovation: Promote the opportunities for technology and science to enhance the reputation of industry as an innovative solutions provider, enabling increased growth and investment; and
  • Regulation: Achieve minimum effective and internationally aligned regulation with no barriers to trade.

The good news is that the economy is expected to return to 3% growth next year, as Australia is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Our future success lies in being a smart, responsible, responsive, progressive and globally-connected industry,” Capanna concluded.

No one in the dais, nor the audience, could disagree.

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