Does Ingredient Disclosure Benefit The Cleaning Industry?
Question: Ingredient disclosure is a new movement in the cleaning industry. Do you think making an ingredient listing available to consumers is a good idea?
Yes, 100 percent full ingredient disclosure is a good thing. We have been doing that with 16-part MSDSs for close to 20 years.
First of all, there are no real trade secrets. Most manufacturers can determine the ingredients in competitive products. The key is how you "cook/bake" them. Secondly, for any particular individual or facility, they may have a high priority on a particular issue and may want to compare alternatives of products, including the choices of green certified products available.
Lastly, the ISSA Transpare Initiative is a good one and we should all be looking to support it.
— Mike Sawchuk, vice president, Enviro-Solutions/Charlotte Products, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
Information, used in conjunction with good subject knowledge, is always positive. Information absent of knowledge, however, is often misleading, at best. If the reader understands the function, impact and alternatives of each ingredient, they have all the necessary information to make an educated selection. If the reader lacks this knowledge, then they will lack understanding in their selection and the impact of that selection.
— Rebecca S. Kaufold, chemist, Spartan Chemical Co., Inc., Maumee, Ohio.
We are in full support of the trend for ingredient disclosure. However, we’ve observed that it is often difficult to get customers to engage in the technical discussions regarding the sustainability of cleaning products due to the complex nature of the material. Therefore, we are concerned that ingredient disclosure falls short of the true transparency around the health and environmental profiles of cleaning products. We are more in favor of systems that go beyond ingredient disclosure by providing sustainability disclosure.
There appear to be 3 tiers of transparency around "green products."
1. Third-party certification, which offers a guarantee of a certain degree of performance with no homework involved;
2. Manufacturer-provided assessment of the health, environmental, safety, and sustainability impacts associated with a product — this often requires some homework on the users part; and
3. Ingredient disclosure, which requires the user to be a chemist, toxicologist, environmental scientist, and engineer to understand the sustainability of the product in question — typically an unrealistic homework expectation.
BSCs should be provided the right information to meet their sustainability needs. While ingredient disclosure plays a role in that effort, it falls short of the data required to fulfill the triple bottom line of balancing the current and future needs of people, planet, and profit.
— Dan Daggett, Ph.D., manager, Corporate Sustainability, Diversey Inc., Sturtevant, Wis.
I think an informed consumer is the best customer. People who are not familiar with chemical names can get the wrong impression about some additives that are considered "safer" than traditional cleaning ingredients. Oxygenated cleaners, for instance, such as hydrogen peroxide, and chlorine dioxide may seem like harsh ingredients, but with the right combinations, provide an excellent basis for cleaning products.
Someone might see the word "chlorine" and immediately associate it with bleach. Ethoxylated Alcohol is in a product, when in fact, it is such a minute amount and the function as a wetting agent that is used in many health care products. Again, the word "alcohol" doesn’t tell the whole story behind the product.
— Brent Crawford, president, Core Products Co., Canton, Texas.