The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized JohnsonDiversey as a “Champion” under the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI), a program JohnsonDiversey helped develop through its leadership in the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Council.
The 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 manufacturing or use of nonylphenol ethoxylates, commonly referred to as NPEs, which studies have shown can harm aquatic life. In 2007, JohnsonDiversey voluntarily ceased producing and selling products with alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs), which include NPEs, though it remains legal in the U.S. 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 the EPA to facilitate the Advisory Council. “Through its participation in the Council, JohnsonDiversey was a catalyst for the creation of a program to recognize companies that use safer ingredients in product formulations.”
JohnsonDiversey began phasing APEOs out of products in the 1990s and continued to seek alternative formulations well before publicly committing to eliminate them from products in 2007.
“Eliminating APEOs from our products was the responsible action to take,” said JohnsonDiversey president and CEO Ed Lonergan. “We’re proud we can tell our customers and our communities that we’re setting standards for our products that are more stringent than current regulations in order to protect human health and the environment.”
JohnsonDiversey’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.
As APEOs break down in the environment, the resulting components 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.
The EPA has not banned APEOs. However, Japan has banned APEOs and many industries in Europe have voluntarily eliminated their use. APEO regulations have also intensified in Canada.