Published 4 years ago.
About a 5 minute read.
Image: American Cleaning Institute
We know, of course, that no matter how many bold ambitions a company has, it cannot change the world alone. But through collaborative effort, the impact companies can make is multiplied, often many times over.
To make meaningful change, companies that make up any supply chain must be
committed to driving impactful industry action to foster and shape a sustainable
future. Like many other sectors, the American Cleaning
Institute (ACI) and our members — who
make, formulate and supply cleaning products and their chemistries and packaging
— have been working hard to reduce emissions, use resources more efficiently and
build greater transparency for consumers. We have reported
on how many of our member
companies are tackling the critical sustainability issues confronting our
We know, too, that bold action is needed — by everyone. We all have a role to
play, from governments and consumers to business and trade associations like us.
Ultimately, success in addressing problems such as climate change will come
through collaboration — not just across our industry, but across sectors.
Going forward, ACI will be challenging its members to do more — to set ambitious
goals and targets and noticeably bring about forward progress across our supply
chain. By driving forward actions and partnerships that can make a real
difference on the ground — increasing transparency for consumers, reducing
emissions and waste, and valuing the planet’s natural resources.
As part of our forthcoming
campaign, we want to confront the following issues head on:
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ACI research suggests that only one-third of consumers of cleaning products feel
knowledgeable about the information that is most important to them — such as a
product’s ingredients, their potential impact on the environment, and how safe
they are. Ultimately, we want consumers and customers to understand what is in
the cleaning products that they use every day, so they can be empowered to
select the products that work for them.
Our supply chain has taken great strides to provide more information than ever
before about cleaning products and their chemistries and now complying with new
mandates as outlined in California’s Cleaning Products Right to Know
Act. A number of our members — including Colgate-Palmolive,
Seventh Generation and
Unilever — are increasing
transparency through the SmartLabel initiative.
Using an app available on any smart device, the initiative aims to make it
easier for consumers to gain instant access to detailed information on thousands
of food, beverage, household, personal care and pet care products. Consumers
access the data by a QR code, and the information helps them make informed
choices about what they buy and use in their homes.
As well as looking at ingredients, we also need to find ways for our sector to
have a more positive impact on the world around us. Among cleaning product
formulators, operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have fallen by 37
percent over the past decade; while, according to data collected by ACI,
renewable energy use has risen by 19 percent.
In 2018, more than half (54 percent) of our members published their previous
year’s GHG emissions through some form of public document or reporting system,
and 44 percent have set targets to reduce their GHG emissions, improve energy
efficiency or increase the use of renewable energy. Eighteen companies have gone
further still, by aligning their commitments to science-based
or taking steps to power their entire operations using renewable sources.
As an industry, we are committed to moving toward a more circular global economy
by valuing nature, striving to use natural resources efficiently and seeking to
minimize waste. Product packaging — essential for transporting and protecting
our members’ products — can also lead to waste and pollution, so our members are
collaborating to eliminate single-use packaging through redesign and initiatives
32 percent of ACI formulators have set goals to reach 100 percent recyclable
One of the obstacles to reducing waste is a lack of knowledge and awareness —
knowing what can and cannot be recycled can be extremely confusing for
consumers. How2Recyle is a coalition of brands that
aims to transform people’s awareness about what can be recycled through clear,
standardized, on-package labels. More than one-third of our ACI formulator
members support the initiative, including AlEn, Church &
Dwight, The Clorox
Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Georgia-Pacific, Henkel, Kao
Corporation, P&G, RB, SC Johnson, Seventh Generation and Unilever; with
support by supply chain companies The Dow Chemical Company,
Eastman and Lonza.
It is also important for all of us to look beyond our industry at the wider
picture. The UN Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) provide a clear
route to making a real global impact. ACI supports the Goals, and 43 of our
members have already aligned their strategies with the SDGs or are reporting
We are encouraging others to do the same, for example by sharing tools such as
the chemical sector SDG Roadmap. This
collaborative initiative provides a step-by-step guide for how companies can
work together to support and advance the SDGs more powerfully than acting
We know, of course, that no matter how many bold ambitions a company has, it
cannot change the world alone. But through collaborative effort, the impact
companies can make is multiplied, often many times over. By working together,
meaningful change can actually be achieved.
Published Jan 7, 2020 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
Melissa Hockstad joined the American Cleaning Institute as the President & CEO in January 2017. She is responsible for the overall leadership of ACI, including advocacy, science and research, communications, consumer education, sustainability, financial oversight and member engagement.