ACI vice chair Sundar Raman, Procter & Gamble, noted that sharing ideas openly in a setting such as the annual meeting and convention can help the industry solve several similar problems, which include consumer-perceived lack of chemical safety and the growing number of “free from” claims.
“It’s not enough to be reactive; we have to become proactive,” he told attendees. “We must show consumers how to use products safely. There are no walls here; with minds and hearts together, we make this a better place for all.”
Global Views from Around the World
Raman’s call for teamwork was a prelude to sessions devoted to global industry updates and an ACI issues briefing. In the former, executives at trade organizations representing Australia, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan and Mexico provided insights into the issues that are impacting their associations.
For example, an aging population continues to plague Japan’s growth prospects. According to the Japan Soap and Detergent Association’s Hiroyuki Saijo, by 2030, 30% of Japan’s population will be 65 or older. With that in mind, formulators must consider their audience when developing new products and packages. On that note, Craig Brock of Accord Australasia proclaimed the war on packaging waste is the No.1 challenge for the fast-moving consumer goods industry in general and the global detergent industry, in particular.
“Plastic waste is an obsession,” he noted, and most trade association executives at the ACI meeting agreed. In fact, Susanne Zaenker of Europe’s International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE) labeled plastics and Brexit as the top issues facing her member companies. Ouyang Zhi of the China Cleaning Industry Association insisted that as China matures, the country is changing from serving as the world’s factory to becoming the world’s market, but trade wars and tariffs will hinder growth.
Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association president Shannon Coombs said 2019 is a big year for her organization and the country, with CCSPA turning 60 and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau up for re-election in October.
Brock noted that the US-China trade war could impact the entire global community.
“Politicians think trade wars are good for business, but we don’t think so,” exclaimed Brock.
At the same time, over-regulation can impede growth. But Accord has changed its strategy in the past year to get its message heard.
“When you talk about regulations, too many regulators think we mean de-regulation, that is not our intent,” he explained. “Now we are talking industry growth.”
ACI leadership is talking growth too and how that growth helps power the US economy.
Cleaning Is an Economic Powerhouse
In her opening comments, ACI president and CEO Melissa Hockstad noted that the cleaning products industry has a direct impact on the US economy totaling $59.1 billion, supports 64,000 jobs and includes $8.3 billion of labor compensation. The report, prepared for ACI by the Manufacturing Institute’s Center for Manufacturing Research in partnership with Inforum, examined economic data from 2016, the most recent year where full data is available. Approximately 53% of total cleaning product sales came from purchases by other industries. The total economic impact of the cleaning products industry, including upstream suppliers and downstream distributors, is $192 billion in output and encompasses 756,000 jobs.
Closer to Home
ACI staff and board members were on stage during the annual meeting and industry convention to detail progress and potential problems with a variety of issues including topical antiseptic, sustainability and more. Consumers are demanding more information about their cleaning products and ACI staff expects ingredient transparency to be a key issue this year.
The cleaning industry has a strong track record on transparency issues that can be traced to 2010, with the creation of the Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative, a comprehensive, voluntary program. That history helped get ACI a seat at the table when California developed its ingredient disclosure regulations that made the original bill better for its members. In contrast, New York and its guidance remains problematic, according to Troutman.
“We’re still trying to solve issues with New York,” he admitted. “Ingredient communication is a state-by-state issue.”
New York guidance does not require ingredient listings on the product label, but requires online disclosure of ingredients. In addition to CAS numbers, contaminants, fragrance and intentionally-added ingredients, New York also requires the disclosure of nano-ingredients and health and safety data. According to ACI, some of the threshold limits are unrealistic.
Hal Ambuter, RB, noted that bigger issues than ingredient disclosure, such as plastic waste, are on the horizon and industry must work together to solve them.
“The industry must come together faster on the big issues,” he told attendees. “If we aren’t aligned as an industry, how can we go to Sacramento?”
Not to mention other state capitals and Washington DC. At the same time, Cynthia Reichard of Arylessence urged ACI members to take a different tack when engaging regulators, consumers and NGOs.
“We address emotional issues with technical answers, but they keep coming up,” she noted. “We have to focus on the importance and benefits of our products and ingredients.”
Ambuter and Reichard were quick to point out that regulators such as FDA and NGO groups are not adversaries—in fact, every group at the table seeks the same outcome of safe, effective consumer products. Yet, Reichard also noted that the cleaning industry is not understood on the Hill or other government offices and agencies.
“We have to start telling our story; that is, we sell products that make people’s lives better,” insisted Reichard. “We need new tools. While NGOs talk in sentences, we talk in white papers.”
ACI’s mid-year meeting is June 17-19, in Washington DC.
More info: www.cleaninginstitute.org