Friday, October 3, 2008

Green Chemistry and current Fragrance Industry position

I was not going to start out this way. Too many excellent references I'd prefer to first mention such as Maria Cone's two articles in the LA Times (Environment) as well Thomas Friedman's promotion of "The Green Collar Economy." But the recent article in GCI titled Materials: The Scent of a Winner is purposely obfuscating the challenges of Green Fragrance's for cleaning products.

I like the piece with regards to the industry's history for safety, on-going research, creativity, green marketing and intellectual protection. However, it's overall premise only applies to toiletries and personal skin care items and not to products containing fragrances that are rinsed off down a drain.

Firstly, the industry association, FMA that the GCI article's author is a board member, is not a cheerful participant in the ongoing regulatory reviews of EPA's DfE (Design for the Environment) and EU's REACH. The FMA has valid scientific concerns that many commonly used fragrance materials will not meet the soon to be finalized environmental safety standards resulting in the palette reduction the author fears. Furthermore, he is sticking with an invalid environmental risk assessment based on dosage and quantitative analysis rather then hazard based analysis. Quantitative risk analysis is regarded as acceptable for human safety toxicity but not for peer reviewed attributes and criteria for environmental toxicity. Hazard based analysis or modeling reflects the concentration of bio-accumulation in the population centers. Hazard risk modeling is closer to reality.

Secondly, there is more then enough fragrance raw materials that will pass human and environmental toxicity review to create attractive clean smelling functionally acceptable fragrance compounds. Will these compounds smell similar to the latest or classic cologne, candle or after bath splash? Not very. Because the overuse of persistent trendy long lasting materials found in those unique creations are the source of bio-accumulative and aquatic toxic material discoveries in sediment and estuaries.

Thirdly, looking for clarity in the overuse of green marketing does not exist in the overall cleaning industry initiatives sponsored by the DfE. The personal skin care platforms, most often associated with natural, organic, essential oils, are borrowed terms from food product trends. The food industry has struggled with authenticating the organic origins and material processing. Whereas the long established fragrance industry practice is to utilize standardized odor qualities that are readily available with tiered purity and cost for the intended end-use. Most of the so called naturals in use today in cleaners are technical grades that contain many impurities. Only recently have suppliers offered traceable certified organic fragrance materials but their availability is limited and costly to find usage in mass produced products.

Lastly, what really is compelling is the foot dragging (again see the LA Times article) and the fear that many fragrance compounds need to be revised and that the fragrance industry will suffer a negative image and the resultant slippery slope will carry over into all product categories. The FMA is protecting the supply chain as their primary interest.

So, my message is we can create customized attractive fragrance compounds today and continue with providing fragrance products market uniqueness and pleasure. A transition to a greener future is already within our grasp. Consumers and professional cleaner manufacturers will embrace this transition. Value does exist in the economy for Green Chemistry. We do have ahead some meaningful assignments to revise persistent bio-accumulative and aquatic toxic formulas but better to be GREEN before it's too late.

1 comment:

BobPCrystalClaireCos. said...

Long time overdue response to green marketing for marketing sake.
Keep it up.
Bob P Crystal Claire Cosmetics, Toronto