Environmental Protection

JohnsonDiversey Helps Develop Safer Detergents Initiative

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized JohnsonDiversey as a "Champion" under the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI), a program the company helped develop through its leadership in the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Council.

EPA recognized JohnsonDiversey during a SDSI awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The agency also recognized other chemical manufacturers and product formulators that have met the SDSI standard.

The SDSI recognizes companies and facilities for voluntarily phasing out the manufacture or use of nonylphenol ethoxylates, commonly referred to as NPEs, which studies have shown can harm aquatic life. In 2007, the company voluntarily ceased producing and selling products with alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs), which include NPEs, though it remains legal in the United States to use the chemicals in cleaning applications.

"We especially appreciate the leadership role JohnsonDiversey played in the development of the SDSI program," said Barbara Stinson, senior partner, Meridian Institute, the organization retained by EPA to facilitate the advisory council. "Through its participation, JohnsonDiversey was a catalyst for the creation of a program to recognize companies that use safer ingredients in product formulations."

The company's action has eliminated the annual use of more than 2,250 tons of APEOs. Although these chemicals have been used for more than 50 years in consumer cleaning, personal care, and industrial products to enhance their effectiveness, APEOs have increasingly been associated with harmful effects in the environment.

The components of APEOs have been identified as potential endocrine disruptors that may result in reproductive toxicity, according to some studies. Additionally, these components are considered toxic to some aquatic species.

EPA has not banned APEOs. However, Japan has banned APEOs and many industries in Europe have voluntarily banned their use. APEO regulations have also intensified in Canada.

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