JohnsonDiversey Inc. today announced its commitment to cease formulating and manufacturing products with alkylphenol ethoxydates (APEOs) after December 31, 2006. This action further establishes JohnsonDiversey's environmental leadership in the cleaning and hygiene products industry for industrial and institutional markets, and aligns with the company's legacy of commitment to sustainability.

The announcement was made in conjunction with the launch of the EPA's Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative. SDSI is designed to protect aquatic life, according to Clive Davies, director of EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) program, which organized the initiative. SDSI will recognize companies, facilities, and others who voluntarily phase out or commit to phasing out the manufacture or use of nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactants (a subset of APEOs), commonly referred to as NPEs. Both nonylphenol ethoxylates and their breakdown products, such as nonylphenol, can harm aquatic life.

JohnsonDiversey played a prominent role in the conception and design of the SDSI program with DfE and through its leadership in the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Council (NPPTAC).

"JohnsonDiversey takes pride in its long tradition of environmental stewardship and commitment to sustainability," said JohnsonDiversey Chairman S. Curtis Johnson. "Eliminating APEOs from all our chemical formulations is another step in the Johnson family's commitment to health and the environment. In fact, my father, Sam Johnson, was the first to voluntarily ban ozone-depleting chemicals from all our aerosol products in the 1970s."

JohnsonDiversey began phasing APEOs out of products several years ago and is now committed to their elimination from all product formulations by the end of this year. Currently, JohnsonDiversey uses APEOs in limited quantities in laundry, warewashing, hard-surface cleaners and floor-care products.

APEOs have been used for more than 50 years in consumer cleaning and personal care products and for industrial uses to enhance the effectiveness of agricultural pesticides, metal finishing and wool and paper processing. APEOs have increasingly been associated with harmful effects in the environment and may have harmful effects on humans.

"Our mission is to be our customers' best partner in providing safe, healthy, high performing facilities," said JohnsonDiversey President and CEO Ed Lonergan. "We're excited to bring our customers these new formulas to meet their facility cleaning and hygiene needs while also reducing their impact on human health and the environment."

Many industries in Europe have voluntarily banned APEOs, and the European Commission has likewise restricted their use. Switzerland is the only country to outright ban APEO surfactants, which it did in the early 1990s.

As APEOs breakdown in the environment, the resulting components, such as nonylphenols (NPEs), have been shown to be toxic to aquatic species and potential endocrine disruptors. These chemicals have been found to accumulate in animals and humans and may produce harmful effects. For example, NPEs have been shown in some studies to produce very high levels of female hormones in male trout. While proper wastewater treatment can remove APEOs, before they enter the aquatic environment, the EPA has evidence that levels of APEOs may be increasing in rivers and streams throughout the United States.

"The U.S. EPA has not yet banned APEOs," said JohnsonDiversey Director of Global Product Responsibility Dr. Robert Israel. "But our company is once again displaying leadership by setting standards for ourselves that are higher than current regulations everywhere in the world. We are fully supportive of the EPA's SDSI program for making aquatic environments safer for humans and all animal species."