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The ideal sustainable detergent: the challenges to make it and to sell it


Henkel AG & Co. KGaA
Düsseldorf, Germany


What would the ideal sustainable detergent look like? Its most important features are identified along the value chain. Gaps between the status and the ideal state are clustered into technical challenges “to make” and market challenges “to sell”. Regarding the technical challenges, an ideal sustainable detergent should consist of 100 percent renewable resources, contain biological ingredients, need little washing liquor and be 100 percent biodegradable. Regarding the market challenges, it should be compact, suitable for low washing temperatures and perform according to consumer’s needs. For these challenges, the recent development is illustrated by supporting data, an outlook and recommendations are given. Efforts in detergent and raw material development as well as in communication and consumer education should be directed towards the solution of these challenges.


What is needed to make detergents even more sustainable in future, so that we come closer to the goal of the ideal sustainable detergent? If we follow the value chain in this consideration, a sustainable detergent should consist of 100 percent renewable materials, preferably biological materials such as enzymes.
In the market, these products need to be offered at a sales price competitive to other products on the shelf. As economic sustainability is one of the three dimensions of sustainability (environment, society, economy), the products should also provide an attractive value creation to producer and trade.
The offer should come with as little packaging material as possible. The detergent should be compact and exempt of all superfluous ingredients. This might be best fulfilled if the detergent is in an essentially water-free form, e. g. solid.
The detergent should enable the consumer to wash at low temperature, and it should perform according to her needs.
It should do with as little washing liquor as possible, have a favourable eco-toxicological profile and be 100 perc ...

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