Todd Cline North America Section Head, Fabric Care, Research and Development, P&G, will be a featured speaker at Cleaning Products US 2018, which will be held October 1-3 in Arlington, VA.
Ahead of the event, Cline answered some questions regarding ingredient selection at P&G. According to Cline, sustainability is a key criterion in surfactant selection at P&G—but it is not the first box checked on the company’s list.
“Our starting criteria for surfactants is always about cleaning performance,” he told Happi. “Tide stands for being the best cleaning product on the market, so when we’re evaluating surfactants, we’re looking at how well they clean in terms of what we’ve designed them to clean—greasy soils, particulates and things like that.”
He pointed out that the No. 1 driver of product lifecycle assessment in the laundry process is the energy it takes to heat the water in the wash cycle.
“So as we focus relentlessly on the best cleaning performance, that’s an enabler of always allowing the individual to wash in cold water,” Cline explained.
While performance is the No. 1 criterion in product development, Procter & Gamble researchers have made great strides in plant-based chemistry, too. One of the criteria is also what does the sustainability footprint look like for the feedstocks? For example, do any of the plant-based surfactants come from palm oil? P&G is a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm (RSPO). The feedstocks for P&G’s plant-based products are all RSPO-certified. As a company, Procter is work toward improving the sustainability of the farming and production of feed sources to get these oils.
“So as a starting point, we’re always looking at performance, but then we look at cost as a driver because if it’s significantly more expensive that becomes a challenge, and finally—what does the sourcing profile look like from a material standpoint?”
As Procter & Gamble goes, so goes the US laundry detergent category. According to Information Resources Inc., P&G is the dominant player in the nearly $7.3 billion category. It holds a 54% share of the liquid laundry category, a 71.2% share of the powder segment and a whopping 78.3% share of packets and bar (unit dose) business.
During the past two or three years, P&G has focused on creating plant-based products. The company describes Tide Purclean as the first plant-based detergent with the trusted cleaning power of Tide. According to P&G, the formula contains 65% plant-based ingredients, as certified by the USDA BioPreferred program. In addition, it cleans well in cold water and features power stain removing ingredients.
“We are looking at a lot more natural-based materials than we did in the past,” observed Cline. “In the past, we couldn’t rely on plant-based materials for our traditional Tide and Gain franchises because the scale wasn’t there.”
As the industry works to improve the sustainability profile of its formulas, Cline said that the focus should be on reducing the overall amount of chemistry per dose in detergent. He noted that all the chemistry that’s in the detergent requires energy to make these raw materials, and energy is required to pull these materials out of the wastewater systems.
“The energy for us to actually mix the products and make the final product, in the lifecycle assessment, is very low,” he insisted. “But thinking about the chemicals that go in, and the disposal of them are significant drivers of the lifecycle assessment. Making the surfactants even more efficient so you can put less in means that there is a reduction of overall life cycle assessment.”
As the cleaning industry develops more natural, renewable sources of surfactants, he urged suppliers to focus on cost-competitive solutions and to develop on the scale necessary to supply major business—like a business the size of Tide.
To learn more about Cleaning Products USA, Oct. 1-3, 2018, click here.