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Western European Phosphate Ban to Reward Innovative Formulations

by
April 17th, 2014

The 2010 phosphate ban in North America forced manufacturers of automatic dishwashing detergents to move away from sodium triphosphate, and this has not been without consequences. The performance of automatic dishwashing products has declined and the habit of using cheap automatic dishwashing powders and liquids is very much alive. Consumers are trading down while also adding automatic dishwashing additives to their shopping trolleys.

However, the impact of the 2017 phosphate ban in Western Europe could take another direction. With a wide range of new performing builders now available on the market, Western Europeans may not trade down and sales of automatic dishwashing detergents could even increase. Thus, glutamic acid diacetic acid tetrasodium salt (GLDA), methylglycine diacetic acid trisodium salt (MGDA) and trisodium citrates (TSC, TSA) are very much in line to benefit the most from the ban, even though product manufacturers remain sceptical about the potential of newly developed ingredients.

Consumption of Automatic Dishwashing Detergents

Source: Euromonitor International

Fighting on the ‘Green’ Front

As the phosphate ban was put in place to protect the environment, ingredients manufacturers are highlighting the eco-friendly of their products, from their production to their biodegradability. Akzo Nobel maintains that its GLDA is the only plant-based builder while citric acid can be produced from the fermentation of corn glucose syrup. GLDA enjoys a small ecological footprint thanks to its biocidal properties, allowing a 50% reduction in the amount of preservatives used in detergents, but Akzo Nobel and BASF fail to mention that they both use hazardous substances in the production process. However, at the same time, GLDA and MGDA are readily biodegradable. Thus, the impact on the environment of these different new builders is still very much debatable, and none can respond to all demands in terms of “greenness”.

New Washing Processes, Formulations and Formats to Optimise Performance

Crockery-loving Western Europeans are more sophisticated than their North American counterparts, with their consumption patterns dominated by automatic dishwashing tablets. As Western Europeans appear to be ready to trade up so as to not make compromises, ingredients manufacturers can expect a return on their investment if they can guarantee performance. Indeed, with more room for manoeuvre in terms of automatic dishwashing product value sales than in North America, ingredients manufacturers can develop new builders without focusing on cost.

The performances of GLDA, MGDA and citrates are strongly linked to pH and temperature. Thus, an alkaline pH and a temperature higher than 55°C are best for GLDA and MGDA. In such conditions, they perform better than citrates, but the opposite is true when pH and temperature are lower. However, to quote Oliver Seelig, Technical Service Manager from Jungbunzlauer International AG, “Future formulations will likely contain a mix of citrates and MGDA or GLDA to balance performance and cost as citrates (based on active substance) are reasonably priced, lower than MGDA or GLDA”.

The success of new builders will therefore be influenced by the availability of eco-wash functions on dishwashers but also by the bias decided upon during reformulation. This bias will also impact the entire range of performance aid ingredients which are essential to fulfilling consumers’ expectations. Indeed, the choice of builder and its optimal operating conditions should affect the types of enzymes, biocides, polymers, surfactants and bleaches used.

Consumption of Selected Water Softeners/Chelators in Home Care

Source: Euromonitor International

Reformulations will then lead to the development of new formats allowing each ingredient to reach their full potentials. As citrates are easily formulated in gel and liquids formats and GLDA and MGDA are also more effective in those formats gel and liquid tablets should emerge in automatic dishwashing NPD. Eventually, automatic dishwashing could welcome the arrival of multi-chamber liquid tablets with delayed release for each compartment. Multi-chamber liquid tablets would further boost the opportunities for performance aid ingredients as “antagonistic” ingredients could be included in the same pod.

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