Green Chemistry: A Case Study in Transparency

Product stewardship has an active role in helping AkzoNobel market green products. The company adopted transparency and collaboration as guiding principles as it integrated its product stewardship and marketing functions. Ed Bisinger, the company’s regional PSRA manager, presented a case study to illustrate how it works.

As a backdrop to the case study, Bisinger explained that product stewardship is embedded in the company. Business managers are responsible for implementing product stewardship, using the company’s continuous improvement tool. The tool is designed to tell the business leaders where they are currently. They have to explain how they’ll improve and in what timeline.

The company also reviewed all the substances in its portfolio with a GHS classification and scored them based on toxicity, ecological concern and public perception. Substances were deleted from the portfolio when possible. Those that couldn’t be deleted underwent a detailed risk assessment. Based on the risk assessments, the company prohibited the use of some and restricted the rest to specific conditions that were shown to be safe.

The company also prioritizes green chemistry initiatives. It participates in the GC3, a group effort to accelerate green chemistry solutions and increase transparency in the value chain, said Bisinger.

The Case Study

When it was tasked with developing a new automatic dish washing liquid, AkzoNobel committed to a transparent and collaborative process with its customer, the EPA and NGOs.

The challenge was to identify a phosphate-replacement that worked and was safe from a human and environmental standpoint. The company developed a molecule that met the requirements. Testing showed that it had an excellent safety profile, said Bisinger. The company provided its customer with copies of all the studies and reports. “They came to the conclusion that this product was safe,” he said.

Unfortunately, there was a glitch. The customer conducted its own testing and found that the molecule wasn’t biodegradable. Initial testing showed that it was biodegradable in Europe but not in the U.S.

After more testing, it was apparent that the microorganisms hadn’t acclimated to the U.S., but that it would adapt the necessary metabolic pathways. The companies presented the study results at numerous conferences and shared the full report with the EPA.

The EPA voiced a different concern, about a possible hazard. Rather than conduct a lengthy study, AkzoNobel worked with the agency to develop a new assessment approach that involved a short-term study that has been previously validated by the FDA for pharmaceutical use. The molecule was shown to be safe, and the company presented the methodology at a number of conferences.


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