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December 2008

CLEAN AGE Summary


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No. 29 (December 2008)

Inside of this issue
1.New Coop Approach to Laundry Detergent :Interviewed Yoshihiro Maruyama
2.Chemical Management - Making Efforts Corresponding Global Trends
Interviewed Itaru Yasui

3.Synthetic Detergent - Advanced with the Change of Consumer Needs


1. New Coop Approach to Laundry Detergent

Interviewed Yoshihiro Maruyama, Director Coop Kanagawa, Managing Director & Chief Officer, Organization Division

Since 2007, the risk management committee of Coop Kanagawa has re-examined laundry detergent containing LAS and fluorescent agent, which was long included in the list of "product not handled"up until now. Recently, the examination concluded and the result led us to decide to sell national brands of laundry detergent containing LAS and fluorescent agent at our stores from the latter half of 2008.
To tell the truth, the laundry detergent remained as a product, to which Coop stuck to the last minute. The detergent issue including a river covered with suds in the 1960's was the first environmental issue which was actually felt in our living. It can be said that it triggered for consumers to recognize environmental issues. Because of such a historical background, it is also true that there were a lot of Coop members who worried about the policy change to the laundry detergent.


What we value the most, however, is to assume social responsibility. We should not make a business by threatening consumers or creating anxiety among consumers. We must provide products evaluated and confirmed as safe based on the latest scientific findings and information. We believe it is necessary to correct if current policy or idea of Coop is inaccurate or wrong. It is also a problem, if we do not proactively correct misunderstanding in the past. For these corrective actions, we must spend time and effort to explain it.
There is a history that consumer activities changed laundry detergent containing phosphates to non-phosphate detergent, and also changed surface-active agent of detergent with higher biodegradability in the past. We should appreciate such consumer activities that have helped change a society.
There is a trial and error in the flow of the activity to make the living better. What is important is to think about human and environmental health with Coop members, or to think about the world from daily life at times.
Regarding laundry detergent, it is necessary to think about drain water of family waste, which causes sewage issue and further results in water environment protection issue.


Coop has a policy called "Four Wishes to Coop Detergent". That is; 1) detergent that is safe and has less environmental impact, 2) detergent that is convenient to use while having enough cleaning performance, 3) detergent that is available at low price with minimum waste, and 4) detergent, of which the raw material resource is secured. When we reconsidered protecting Coop member's living based on these wishes, it became necessary to re-examine laundry detergent containing LAS and fluorescent agent.
In order to provide a hint and topics about laundry detergent and water environment protection, U-Coop as an entire Coop organization sent information, by using various media such as an information magazine, to Coop members, and conducted symposiums or study meetings with support by professors of various universities, researchers in research laboratories or Japan Soap & Detergent Association (JSDA).


Business partners such as customers may consider that this approach is not efficient. However, Coop is not only a distributor but also a consumer group. In either way, the goal is to work for benefit to the members, and what is different from other corporations is that Coop keeps focusing on "with members"in the process.
We aim at penetrating more into the members, while recognizing diverse needs of consumers.

《 Coop Kanagawa 》
It was established in 1946 for an imminent purpose to procure food in the food scarcity after World War II and to secure proper food distribution. Since then, it has played a major role in the consumerism of Japan.
The number of the members in Kanagawa is 1.17 million families, and the number of the member families who use Coop at least once a month is 580,000. The amount of total sales is about 140 billion yen in the annual turnover. It also makes efforts to develop private brands, and sell a variety of private brands at their stores. In the future, however, they plan to concentrate on product development which pursues higher safety and low price, while strengthening cooperation with Japan Coop Association, the nationwide organization, rather than sticking to development of their original brands.

2. Chemical Management - Making Efforts Corresponding Global Trends

Motoyasu Oodera, Chairman, JSDA Human & Environmental Safety Technical Committee
The Human & Environmental Safety Technical Committee belongs to the JSDA Environmental Committee, and began the activity in 2002. It has consistently conducted human and environmental safety surveillance study and enlightening activity, while tackling issues taking place in each occasion.


■ The global trend
The activity primarily focuses on providing continuous support to each member company so that they can keep environmentally friendly products in the market, with which consumer can use safely. Though this basic approach never changes, what we need to pay special attention in the field of human and environmental safety is that the global approach concerning chemical management has changed greatly. General tendency is to further strengthen the restriction as represented by REACH(Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals)in Europe, and GHS (Globally Harmonized Systems) is one of issues that has appeared in the flow of such a global trend of chemical management.
In this important period of time, we believe that it becomes more and more important to review and dig down scientific facts objectively. In addition, it is necessary to establish the solid base of safety and of security for the most updated technology, because the technology surrounding the product is advanced day by day.

■ First step to approach chemical management
JSDA established a special working group to deal with GHS.
As for PRTR (Pollutant Release and Transfer Register), the list of designated chemical substances is currently reviewed, and how to cope with the review result as the industry is important.
Understanding the amount of production and usage of chemicals becomes important basic information to manage chemicals properly. The misunderstanding, that the chemical substance designated in PRTR is bad, seems to still remain in Japan. The objective of PRTR is to use chemicals effectively in daily life, while appropriately managing them. Naturally, the effort to stay in the system is thus important. Consequently, it is necessary to keep making communication effort so that consumers could correctly understand the system further.

■ Approach of water monitoring study from a new aspect
First of all, the effect of chemicals on human body will no longer become an issue, because how to assess toxicity of chemicals has been systematically established, e.g. chronic toxicity and acute toxicity, and also confirmation of the product safety and measures on the product safety are currently handled properly by each company.
In terms of environmental impact, JSDA has conducted water monitoring study for more than ten years, by which the concentration of surface-active agents in the water environment is measured.
Because the data collected by means of the continuous monitoring only at a fixed point may not represent the data across the country, we are studying to verify the data using a statistical technique and simulation model.
The study is costly, and we cannot measure it everywhere in Japan. However, BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) is a general standard of water quality measured on a nationwide scale. And, it is considered that BOD and the concentration of surface-active agents in the water environment should correlate to some degree because the source of the original discharge is common. We thus plan to use the data of the spot monitoring study to the stretch effectively. More specifically, we plan to develop a method to determine the concentration of surface-active agents in the water environment across the country by combining the water monitoring results with the BOD data.
It is possible to say as a result of the longtime investigation, that LAS etc. are removed 99% by sewage treatment in the metropolitan area where the sewage system coverage exceeds 90%. Therefore, you may conclude that there is realistically no environmental impact of detergent. We will continue the monitoring study to confirm it.
To assess the environmental effect, it is important to analyze the concentration of surface-active agents contained in the water environment, e.g. rivers, as well as the impact on aquatic life such as fish, water fleas and algae. As for the monitoring study, we not only evaluate the concentration in the upper-layer water, but also we should develop the consideration on the ecological risk by arranging data one step further. In addition, we plan to further advance the activity from a new aspect, taking enlightenment PR into account.


3. Synthetic Detergent - Advanced with the Change of Consumer Needs

● The history began on prewar days
The first household synthetic detergent was developed in the 1890's as a substitute of soap, since World War I caused major shortage of soap.
World War II also made synthetic detergent advance greatly. ABS developed in Germany in 1933 was mainly used for munitions. Later, a major chemical company in the United States joined in the development, and it became the key ingredient of synthetic detergent afterwards. In Japan, it was after World War II that synthetic detergent came to be used in general, though the first synthetic detergent "Monogen" was put on the market in 1934.

● ABS, primary surface-active agent for detergent
The petroreum-base synthetic detergent was popularly shown in the Japanese market in 1951 as a result of remarkable development of petrochemistry on postwar days. The production of synthetic detergent exceeded the production of soap in 1963. At that time, ABS was the primary surface-active agent.
One of key reasons why the detergent was rapidly accepted is attributable to the development of an electric washing machine, which deeply penetrated into home and greatly changed the laundry practice.

● Switch to "soft-type" detergent, and diversified consumer needs
While ABS had come to be used widely, it had a problem of poor biodegradability due to the chemical structure having branched alkyl chain. This caused a phenomenon that the suds came up on a river here and there around 1964, because a large amount of detergent effused to a river before completely decomposed.
This required converting the surface active-agent to ABS with liner alkyl chain (LAS). This conversion was called "switch to soft-type detergent", which was a big mountain that the detergent needed to overcome. It was around 1966. The surface-active agent converted to at that time was mainly LAS, which has good biodegradability and is still used in current detergent.
Afterwards, the usage extended to cleaning of other items than laundry. For instance, dish washing detergent was put on the market, followed by detergent for hard-surface cleaning in 1956. In such, the commercialization of detergent depending on the usage progressed.

● Eutrophication, non-phosphate detergent, and oil crisis
Soon after the sudsing commotion was settled, the eutrophication issue of lakes and marshes was closed up. The issue began from the outbreak of red tide observed in Lake Biwa in 1971 and in the Inland Sea in 1972. There was amplified voice to point out that phosphates used as a supplementary agent in detergent was the cause of eutrophication.
The proportion that laundry detergent caused the eutrophication was actually only 9% of all. It was therefore possible to make an argument that removing phosphates from detergent did not represent the ultimate measure because detergent alone was not the cause of eutrophication from the science point of view. The undulation of anti-synthetic detergent, however, was so fierce that no one was able to act against it.
In order to deal with this issue, the industry developed a countermeasure, i.e. an introduction of non-phosphate detergent, in 1980, and the conversion to non-phosphate detergent had completed in five years since then.
Also, so-called oil crisis took place in 1973, and there was "Detergent Panic", buying up commotion of detergent.

● Development of compact detergent and multifunctional detergent
The compact detergent appeared in the market in 1987. Development of compact detergent was the epoch-making in the detergent history. The product was designed to provide good cleaning performance with a small amount of usage. The technology used for this product was not only reducing the total volume via compression of the midair part of granules but also effectively using such biotechnology as enzymes in the formula. This opened a new age of today's multifunctional detergent.

Detergent
The product which has come along with the age in various respects.


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