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Soap’s Opera: Conflict and Resolution on the World Stage

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: October 10, 2008, from the January 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Beginning in 2006, the AISE will publish a full annual report on the 10 key performance measures, including greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water use. These measures will demonstrate the contribution being made by the European detergents and cleaning industry toward international targets for safeguarding the environment. According to AISE, this program builds on successful previous initiatives for sustainability undertaken by the industry—including the code of good environmental practice, the Washright campaign and the Human & Environmental Risk Assessment initiative.

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) unveiled its Principles for Sustainable Development in early 2005. The principles symbolize the U.S. soap and detergent industry’s contributions to a better world through health, hygiene and wellness.

“Many of our past and current activities—such as SDA’s partnerships promoting hygiene and health practices—already demonstrate our commitment to sustainability,” said Ernie Rosenberg, president and CEO, SDA, when announcing the initiative. “In the months and years ahead, this statement will help us build a more demonstrable legacy of improving life for our employees, customers, communities and the world at large.” For this group, sustainability means the responsible formulation, production and sale of cleaning products and ingredients.

Protecting Innovation

Chemical regulation is a big concern in all its forms—international, national and local—because some see it as a potential threat to formulation and innovation. The SDA takes potential threats to innovation seriously, including what Brian Sansoni, vice president of communication and membership, SDA, called “ill-conceived chemical control regimes” on which member companies now must focus their attention. The SDA is actively engaged in product defense and protecting members’ freedom to formulate and innovate. The challenge is greater than ever from well-meaning proposals that will ban ingredients in products, but fortunately, Sansoni said, the SDA is better equipped than ever to focus on advocacy and good technical work that will protect the industry from such challenges.

REACH, the European Union program for the registration, authorization and evaluation of chemicals has, according to Sansoni, an international impact on the availability of ingredients that are in many products. He believes the program could have a large effect on SDA members, but reports they still are trying to sort it all out. One big question he and others have is will members still have available the ingredients they need to make the products their customers want?