Japan Soap and Detergent Association (JSDA)

August 2002


<prev next>

No. 16 (August 2002)

Inside of this issue
"Mother Lake": Lake Biwa Now
The 44th Clean Survey on Hair Care and Hair Coloring
International Affairs Committee: Report on Activities
Expert Committee on Laundry Science: Report on Activities

"Mother Lake": Lake Biwa Now

Lake Biwa is the largest closed water body in Japan, occupying one-sixth of Shiga Prefecture's total area. Historically, this lake has offered important lessons to the Japanese soap and detergent industry.

More than 20 Years Ago - Enactment of Lake Biwa Regulation

Water pollution caused by eutrophication - an overabundance of nutrients - was recognized as a problem from the early 1970s, when major outbreaks of algae and red tide occurred in Lake Biwa. The cause was considered to lie in the use of synthetic detergents containing phosphates. From 1978 a citizens' campaign emerged in Shiga Prefecture based on the message: "Don't buy, don't sell, and don't gift with synthetic detergents containing phosphates." The local government responded with measures to restrict the use of synthetic detergents and promote the use of powdered soap. At the same time, the Association of Residential Activities for Promoting Soap Usage for Lake Biwa was organized (later to become the Lake Biwa Citizen Forum), and a large-scale citizens'movement began to develop.
As a result, the Ordinance Concerning the Prevention of Eutrophication of Lake Biwa was enacted in 1979, banning retail sales of synthetic detergents containing phosphates and obliging consumers not to use such detergents or give them as presents. It was (naturally) difficult for the soap and detergent industry to take a positive stance toward the developments in Shiga Prefecture. The industry took issue with the one-sided citing of household use of synthetic detergents containing phosphates as the cause of the eutrophication of lake water, and presented these concerns to the governor of the prefecture. The industry backed up its claims with scientific data showing that synthetic detergents were estimated to contribute no more than 10 percent of the total phosphates that were one of the causes of eutrophication. The data also showed that the problem of eutrophication could not be solved without addressing problems such as the use of agricultural fertilizers and drainage of waste water from regions without sewage facilities.

Industry Responses and Subsequent Trends

While these developments were occurring, the industry - recognizing that it must not neglect efforts to reduce the overall burden on the environment - proceeded to regulate itself. Firstly, it introduced self-regulation limiting phosphate content to 10 percent as an interim measure. It dispatched a research team to investigate water quality issues in Europe and promoted industry-wide research into drastic measures to improve water quality. It also proceeded with the changeover to non-phosphorous synthetic detergents, which represented 60 percent of all synthetic detergents in 1982 and 90 percent by 1984. However, even after the switch to non-phosphorous detergents, surveys conducted by the Shiga prefectural government indicated that water quality in Lake Biwa was not improving.
In spite of this, the influence of events in Shiga prefecture spread throughout Japan and, in conjunction with the unscientific theories about the damaging effects of synthetic detergents that were prevalent at the time, a trend toward a ban on synthetic detergents swept the country. For a long time after detergents had been made completely non-phosphorous, "don't use synthetic detergents, promote the use of powdered soap" remained the cornerstone of the Shiga campaign.
A public opinion survey conducted by the Shiga prefectural government immediately after the enactment of the Lake Biwa regulations reflected the groundswell of opinion among residents. It showed that 70.6 percent used only powdered soap, 17.9 percent used both powdered soap and non-phosphorous synthetic detergents, and 7.3 percent used only non-phosphorous synthetic detergents, with the remaining 4.2 percent responding "don't know." In recent years survey results have changed, with around 30 percent of respondents using mainly powdered soap, around 25 percent using both powdered soap and non-phosphorous synthetic detergents, and around 40 percent mainly using synthetic detergents only.

Historic Change in Policy for the Lake Biwa Citizen Forum

These trends proved to be a turning point for Shiga prefecture's Lake Biwa Citizen Forum. As the forum entered its 20th year in 1998, there was a growing awareness of the need to change the overall focus of its campaigns. Subsequently, it devoted energy to gathering information from a wide range of sources, and the Japan Soap and Detergent Association (JSDA) has continued to provide the forum with product information, results of environmental surveys, and other data.
Following on from these processes, the Lake Biwa Citizen Forum made an important decision in 2000 that could be seen as a historic change in policy. Realizing that current environmental problems cannot be addressed just in terms of the aquatic environment of Lake Biwa, the forum adopted a new theme to replace that of the soap campaign: "Eco-kitchen reform." This theme, taken from the perspective of citizens' everyday lives, uses the kitchen as a focal point for addressing energy conservation, resource conservation, garbage-disposal measures, and overall environmental issues.
In conjunction with this shift in emphasis, the forum's slogan has also changed to "use soap and detergent appropriately." As synthetic detergents have improved, from the environmental point of view it is no longer possible to say for sure "yes to soap, no to synthetic detergents." Even if people use soap, overuse can pollute water. People have started to listen to such sound arguments and recognize their merit.
However, since the new policy encourages the use of synthetic detergents in appropriate amounts as an addition to the traditional pro-soap campaign, the soap-promotion campaign has not disappeared. Now the question has become: what constitutes an appropriate amount? "An appropriate amount" is a difficult judgment for an average consumer to make, so the Lake Biwa Citizen Forum is researching its own standards by carrying out tests on washing methods and gathering its own data.

The 44th Clean Survey on Hair Care and Hair Coloring

The 44th Clean Survey analyzed young people's attitudes and behavior in respect of hair washing and hair care, and compared the results with data from the previous survey conducted in 1998. The survey targeted 300 residents of the Tokyo metropolitan area, with 100 respondents from each of the following groups: female high school students, male office workers in their 20s (hereafter "men") and female office workers in their 20s (hereafter "women")

■"Morning Shampoo" a Dying Fad among Female High School Students?

The proportion of women in their 20s who washed their hair every morning was 26 percent, a five point increase over the previous survey. With the number of men washing their hair in the morning rising slightly to 32 percent, the "morning shampoo" phenomenon is alive and well. However among female high school students, who were formerly the key players in the "morning shampoo" fad, less than 10 percent of respondents wash their hair every morning, and those who said they hardly ever wash their hair in the morning rose to 70 percent. On the other hand, those who wash their hair every evening rose from 66 percent in the 1998 survey to 77 percent in 2001, indicating a change toward "evening shampoo."

■Female High School Students Worry about Hard-to-Control Hair, Men about Hair Loss

When it came to hair-related concerns, dry/flyaway hair worried an overwhelming 70 percent of woman. In the 1998 survey 40 percent of female high school students were worried by hard-to-control hair, but in this survey the proportion rose to 60 percent, making this the top concern for the group. For men, these worries were followed by a large number of respondents concerned about hair loss.

■Styling Products - Entering the Wax Age

In the 1998 survey foam (mousse) was the most-used styling product, but wax has now jumped ahead. The rise in people using wax is remarkable: from 37 percent to 79 percent among female high school students, from 33 percent to 60 percent among women, and from 18 to 45 percent among men. The second most-used product was foam (mousse), followed by spray as well as cream for women and gel for men.

Styling Products Used

■More than 80 Percent of Women in their 20s Use Coloring

The proportion of respondents using hair coloring currently stands at 85 percent for women, 41 percent for female high school students and 33 percent for men. Looking at those with experience of using coloring products, expressed by the statement "I am not presently using coloring but have used it in the past," the figure climbs to almost 100 percent of women, along with 80 percent of female high school students and 70 percent of men. Compared to past surveys, the proportion of people coloring their hair has definitely risen, resulting in record-high rates in all groups. The 36 point increase among females in their 20s since the 1998 survey is especially notable.
The rate of satisfaction with coloring products is high: 80 percent for women, 70 percent for men, and 60 percent for female high school students, so there seems to be little discontent with the products. The most common frequency of use for coloring products was twice a month for all groups. Compared with the 1998 survey, female high school students and women tend to color their hair at shorter intervals.

Percentage of Respondents Using Coloring Products

International Affairs Committee: Report on Activities

The International Affairs Committee, established in 1993, is made up of committee members from nine JSDA member-companies.

◆Interchange within the Asian Region as a First Step

One of the International Affairs Committee's main achievements in recent years has been the building of an Asian-region network of soap and detergent associations. For several years now Japan has made efforts to take the initiative in encouraging interchange with other soap and detergent associations in neighboring countries.
These activities resulted in the first Asia Soap and Detergent Associations Conference (ASDAC) being held in 1997. Following that initial ASDAC held in Japan, the meetings have become a regular fixture, occurring every two years. The second conference was held in Korea and the most recent in Taiwan.
In the form of ASDAC, a sound basis has been built for international exchange in the Asia region. However, the committee plans to remain proactively involved in promoting ASDAC to increase the number of countries participating and further strengthen the organization.

◆Increasingly Global Issues

If we consider the issues facing the soap and detergent industry in recent years, many common points that surpass national and regional boundaries have emerged. Problems such as environmental issues and the question of regulating chemical substances are discussed beyond the context of the industry and have become major international issues.
There are increasing calls for global responses and global regulations to these issues, and the question of how to involve ourselves in these processes is an extremely important one for our industry. To this end, we need to act quickly in gaining a full understanding of relevant information and in tackling the issues.

◆Links with North American Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) - and then E.U.

This is another reason why, in our next phase of activity, we need to look beyond Asia and create close networks with America and the E.U. too. In autumn last year we invited Mr. Ernie Rosenberg, the president of the North American SDA, to Japan. In spite of the fact that his visit was scheduled soon after the terrorist attacks in the U.S., Mr. Rosenberg willingly made the trip to Japan. He exchanged opinions with JSDA members on our respective organizations and activities, risk assessments for substances specified in the Pollution Release Transfer Register (PRTR) Law, and the current situation and future issues in respect of High Production Volume Chemicals. Mr. Rosenberg also proposed that we should continue to share views on and responses to such issues.

◆Aiming for a Role as a Portal

When it comes to specific problems, various experts are required and the International Affairs Committee cannot respond to every issue on its own. In such cases, the committee's role is to act as a portal, using the kinds of global networks outlined above to cooperate with other organizations and committees on an ongoing basis and connect those involved with the required expertise for each issue.

Expert Committee on Laundry Science: Report on Activities

Last year a washing machine with a detergent-free cycle was launched on the Japanese market. Conducting tests on the new machine and publishing the results has put JSDA's Expert Committee on Laundry Science in the spotlight recently. The committee has a long history dating back to its establishment in 1974.

◆Changing Washing Machines, Changing Laundry Habits

With more then 80 percent of Japanese households owning an automatic washing machine, laundry habits have been gradually changing. The trend toward larger washing machines is continuing, to the extent that machines capable of taking an 8 kilogram load are now regarded as quite normal.
In the days when most people used twin-tub washing machines, they selected the necessary washing conditions by looking at the state of the laundry themselves. However as the use of automatic washing machines spread, people began to leave everything up to the machine - the washing time, the amount of detergent, and the type of rinse cycle.
The laundry can't be completed with only using detergent. There are other basic choices to make: bleaching agents may be used depending on how dirty the laundry is and fabric softener or starch may be added to soften or stiffen the washed garment. But today's automatic washing machines have created a situation where users cannot make choices freely.
In recent times fewer washing machine users think for themselves about the washing they are doing. If washing machine manufacturers do not carefully consider that situation when designing machines, a mismatch may occur between user needs and machine specifications.

◆Cooperation with the Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association (JEMA)

The Expert Committee on Laundry Science has for many years set up forums for information exchange with JEMA, whose members include washing machine manufacturers. In order to offer consumers a better laundry end-result, we need to think about which parts of the laundry process are achieved by washing machines and which parts are achieved by detergents. The committee works from the standpoint of detergent manufacturers to convey to washing machine manufacturers the points that need to be considered in that context.
There are still some unsettled issues, such as the problem of inconsistency between the measuring spoons provided with detergents and the charts on washing machines showing the amount of detergent to be used. However, cooperation between JSDA and JEMA is beneficial to both organizations and it will continue to be an important part of the activities.

◆Questions Surrounding Washing Machines with Detergent-Free Cycle

Usage tests conducted on a washing machine with a detergent-free cycle have been a major issue recently. The manufacturer of the machine claims that garments suitable for washing with the detergent-free cycle include underwear worn for a single day and shirt-type garments worn indoors. These types of garments will undoubtedly be soiled by sebum secreted by the body, and soil cannot be properly removed without the aid of surfactants. Since this type of soil does not dissolve in water, it first needs to be introduced to water so that soil can be shifted to the liquid in the washing machine. But the fact is that washing machines do not have the functional capability to shift and suspend soil in water. Even if the soil is mechanically stripped off by force, there is the concern that it will re-deposit to the garment.
Added to this the next worry comes out that the long washing time that the machine requires may damage fabrics. There are also concerns about washing garments in electrolyzed water. Electrolyzation produces active oxygen and hypochlorous acid, both of which are bleaching agents. In other words, color-loss becomes an issue.
Please take a look at the results of the tests, which are included on this website. You will see that, unfortunately, the concerns of laundry experts are basically confirmed by the results.
The two industries represented by JSDA and JEMA have always shared information with the aim of creating a better washing environment. In the future it will be even more important for us to assist one another in areas where we lack expertise.


Third ASDAC Held in Taiwan
The third ASDAC was held in Taipei on October 4, 2001. Soap and detergent industry representatives from six Asian countries - Taiwan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Japan - gathered for strategic discussions aimed at building an even more solid foundation for their activities. To this end JSDA presented a proposal for adopting a statement of purpose for ASDAC, with the aim of proactively strengthening the foundations of the forum and further developing it. The proposal was agreed by the conference.
Topics such as environmental issues, resource conservation, and measures to deal with plastic packaging are common to all conference members. There is an expectation that Japan will take the initiative in addressing such issues, set standards, and make efforts to reduce the burden on the Asian region as a whole. Information was also exchanged on different laws and regulations as well as responses to globalization. It was decided that the next ASDAC will be held in China.

Risk Assessment for Surfactants Specified in the PRTR Law

JSDA has carried out risk assessments on the ecological effects for both humans and the environment of four types of surfactant that are currently widely used in detergents and are among the substances specified in the PRTR law (which went into force from April 2001). The assessments confirm that all of these substances are extremely low-risk and can be used without concern.
The results have been summarized in a report entitled "Risk Assessment of the Effects of Surfactants on Human Health and on the Environment."

HomeJSDA NEWS topJapanese

Japan Soap and Detergent Association (JSDA)
3-13-11, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku,Tokyo Japan 103-0027 FAX +81 (3) 3281 1870
Copyright(c) Japan Soap and Detergent Association 2000-2010 All Rights Reserved.