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Detergent industry’s

commitment to sustainability
INTRODUCTION Other important attendees were representatives of
The detergents industry is certainly very interested and associations of the sector such as COLIPA (Belgium),
pro-active in pushing forward sustainable cleaning CEFIC (Belgium), FEDERCHIMICA (Italy), ASSOCASA
and sustainability in these sectors is a key issue shared (Italy). Ernie Rosenberg, president of the SDA – the
by producers and consumers alike. Europe has been American Soap and Detergent Association was also
caring for these matters for quite some time now, present and represented the link between Europe and
which has led to the creation of a number of the United States, two areas sharing different aspects
institutions actively studying them. A.I.S.E. of the same issues. Rosenberg brought SDA’s
(International Association for Soaps, Detergents and appreciation for this initiative to the audience and
Maintenance Products) has been committed to these described how the US deals with these subjects.
topics since its foundation. The A.I.S.E. is a network of
35 national associations in 31 countries representing WHAT IS THE A.I.S.E. CHARTER FOR
over 900 companies ranging from small and medium SUSTAINABLE CLEANING?
sized (SMEs) to multi-nationals active in the consumer The Charter for Sustainable Cleaning provides a single
goods and/or industrial and institutional (I&I) markets framework that guides all companies in the industry to
– a market worth estimated at about 35 billion euro. implement the measures necessary to improve the
industry’s sustainability profile over the whole lifecycle
THE A.I.S.E. INFORMATION DAY IN of products, from the sourcing of raw materials
BRUSSELS: SUSTAINABILITY A COMMITMENT through manufacturing and distribution to consumer
Brussels, the heart of new Europe, is the place where use and disposal.
nations, once divided not only by geographical To enhance transparency and credibility, the Charter
borders, meet to seek a new way to meet commonly includes key performance indicators, which will be
shared needs. Harsh discussion is always present, and collected and independently verified, to track
chemical issues are no exception. Quite the contrary in improvements in the industry’s sustainability profile
fact, hard feelings often make their way amongst over time. The first full-year set of results will be
opposing parties involved with these topics. published in 2006 for performance in 2005.
The Information Day event organised by A.I.S.E. to The Charter is the latest in a progression of voluntary
officially present its “Charter for Sustainable Cleaning” initiatives undertaken by the A.I.S.E. and its network of
and held on the 1st of December 2004 in Brussels at national industry associations and member companies.
the Renaissance Hotel provided a good example of the It follows on from the Code of Good Environmental
different views over these issues in Europe. Practice and the Washright (see washright.com)
The event was attended by leading companies of the campaign, launched in 1998, and the HERA (see
sector and by representatives of the EU Commission, heraproject.com) targeted risk assessment initiative,
Parliament, NGO’s and other related industries and run jointly with the European chemicals industry.
organisations. In 1999, A.I.S.E. and CEFIC, the European chemicals
industry association, launched HERA (Human and
The high-level panel of speakers included: Environmental Risk Assessment), a European voluntary
Catherine Day, Director General of DG Environment, initiative aimed at providing a common risk assessment
Patrick Hennessy, DG Enterprise, Anders Wijkman framework for the household cleaning products industry.
MEP, Chris Davies MEP, Simon Smits, representing the Specifically, the Charter was triggered by the Green
Dutch Presidency and Chairman of the Council ad-hoc Paper on Integrated Product Policy, and the industry’s
Working Group on REACH, Bas de Leeuw, Head of the efforts to see how it could best address key issues of
Strategy Unit of the Production and Consumption eco-efficient innovation in the detergents industry.
branch at the United Nations Environment Programme,
and Stefan Scheuer, Policy Director at the European Charles Laroche, President of A.I.S.E., told the
Environment Bureau. audience “This Charter is a significant new Europe-
wide initiative to improve the detergent industry’s

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Household and Personal Care Today • Supplement to chimica oggi/Chemistry Today
sustainability profile. It is part of this industry’s ongoing Cleaning:
commitment to turn sustainable development into
action, and we believe it is programmes such as these
that can help to reconcile the Johannesburg
environmental and social goals with the Lisbon
competitiveness agenda.”

HOW DOES IT WORK?


Companies participating in the Charter will apply
sustainability thinking at all phases of the product
life-cycle, from product design, through manufacture,
to use and disposal. It’s a process aiming at
safeguarding both the environment and the health and
wellness of customers and consumers.
The Charter itself consists of a set of Charter Industrial &
Institutional floor
Sustainability Procedures (CSPs) which companies applications:
implement in their management systems. Companies
participating in the Charter agree to be independently
verified for the Charter entrance check. Once the
criteria are met, they are entitled to use the Charter
logo. Companies participating in the Charter can be
found on the website (www.sustainable-cleaning.com).

Using this logo on the products is important for both


the manufacturer, who certifies it commits to the Charter
requirements the consumer, who can choose products
whose safety is guaranteed when shopping. This is the
reason why Mike Handley, Chief Executive Officer of
Mc Bride and A.I.S.E. Treasurer, strongly invited all the
companies of the sector to join A.I.S.E.’s lifecycle
approach during his presentation on the “Charter”.

A WORD FROM THE BRUSSELS INSTITUTIONS


Addressing the Information Day, Catherine Day,
Director-General of DG Environment, welcomed the
industry’s initiative: “I’m pleased to see that industry is
taking a proactive role in promoting sustainable
development. I believe that private sector initiatives
Laundry: such as the Charter are necessary in the process
towards sustainable development. We can only shift
towards sustainable consumption and production
patterns if we have the engagement of all stakeholders
and especially business.”
During the meeting. Catherine Day launched the new
A.I.S.E. Charter website - www.sustainable-
cleaning.com, a tool to guide all those willing to
seriously commit to sustainability of the soaps,
detergents and maintenance products industry...

Catherine Day’s speech aimed at reaching a much


larger audience than just the Information Day event
Dish: attendees.
Anyone working in the chemical sector today must face
a five-letter term haunting many people’s sleep these
days - REACH, regulations currently under
development which are giving rise to strong and harsh
discussion between opposing parties.
REACH was born with the best of intentions, yet when
it comes down to practical implementation, it clashes
against a situation that has to take into account
problems of no easy solution... The presence of EU

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Household and Personal Care Today • Supplement to chimica oggi/Chemistry Today
representatives and industry people at the Information Speeches by Hennessy, Davies and Smits were in the
day meeting inevitably gave rise to a strong discussion same line as A.I.S.E.’s view over the situation, and
and fruitful exchange of perspectives. This report contributed significantly to the discussion. We would
doesn’t want to look into this discussion since this is not like to interpret the proactive discussion coming out
the best place to do so. Yet, what we would like to from the meeting as a sign of true willingness to set up
underline here is that organisations such as A.I.S.E. useful cooperation by all parties involved in these
founded well before Reach spontaneous initiatives by a issues.
number of manufacturers who felt the need to join
together to face sustainability issues and safeguard To sum up, A.I.S.E.’s Information Day was an
human and environmental safety be it through the opportunity for people from the industry, the various
HERA project and/or the new industry initiative, the associations and the press to meet and exchange
Charter. views. It was also a networking opportunity for all
Under this view, the Charter for Sustainable Cleaning attendees, an event that stimulates everyone to
ideally means crossing the finish line of the continue along the path of sustainability, striving to
responsible care pathway the chemical industry has provide tools that are more and more effective in
been following for many years, in line with its strong improving the relationship between detergents and the
commitment to sustainability. When a “United Europe” environment.
was still a blurring concept in everyone’s mind, there
were people already working hard to work out Our special thanks go to the A.I.S.E. staff for their
solutions to the commonly shared environment incredible commitment to these issues. We are now
protection needs. entering a new phase. All presentations have been
Sustainability and responsible care have been priority made. Everyday life issues are the next focus –
issues in the chemical industry ever since the concepts companies need to take action now. The path to follow
were first created, that’s a fact, and so is the industry’s has been laid down, objectives have been pinpointed,
response to these issues. The chemical industry has tools have been provided, and A.I.S.E. is available for
been actively involved in finding solutions for these any further clarification and support. A.I.S.E.’s
issues for many years. Regulatory commissions must invitation is to all companies of the sector. They need to
become well aware of this and always seek fair seriously think about this opportunity they are offered,
discussion and exchange of views, always bearing in to join forces to improve the quality of the environment
mind that they will always find chemical producers and we all live in, to improve their own working
distributors very willing to cooperate and help on these environment, and, not less important, to improve their
important issues. own image. It is a great communication opportunity, as
Nabil Y. Sakkab, R&D Senior Vice-President for Global part of everyone’s effort to provide the clearest
Fabric and Home Care in Procter & Gamble, while information possible in the global community.
describing A.I.S.E.’s sustainability initiatives, expressed
the vision of the many producers among the For further information please contact Maarten
Information Day audience and confirmed A.I.S.E.’s Labberton, Director-General A.I.S.E.:
availability to support REACH to work out the best maarten.labberton@aise-net.org (tel +32 2 230 8371)
possible solutions addressing the whole production www.aise-net.org
chain – from lab to shop shelves. www.sustainable-cleaning.com

A.I.S.E.
Square Marie-Louise 49
B- 1000 Brussels - Belgium

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Household and Personal Care Today • Supplement to chimica oggi/Chemistry Today