Cleaning Products Go Green
While most household cleaning categories limp along, products promoted
for their environmental benefits are posting double-digit gains.
IN THE LONG RUN, environmentally friendly household cleaning
products may be good for the
planet, but in the short term,
they’re even better for a company’s bottom line. Why else would
Clorox roll out Green Works,
Church & Dwight introduce
Arm & Hammer Essentials or
S.C. Johnson scoop up Caldrea?
The chart below shows how category
sales have slipped during the past year,
yet according to Information Resources,
Inc., sales of Mrs. Meyers’ Clean Day
Tub & Tile Cleaner jumped 225% and
Seventh Generation’s glass cleaner
The benefits and challenges of going
green in the cleaning category were
brought to light in a recent conference,
“What’s New on the Clean Green
Scene,” held Nov. 18-19 in Alexandria,
VA. The conference was developed by
Intertech Pira in association with The
Soap and Detergent Association.
“Sales of conventional cleaning products have declined, but natural cleaning
product sales have risen,” noted Martin
H. Wolf, director, product and environmental technology, Seventh Generation.
Mr. Wolf pointed out that according to a
recent Gallup Poll, last year 80-90% of
Americans recycled or reduced energy
use, while 73% purchased environmentally friendly products.
There’s no denying that green products are here to stay, but as conference
chair Brian Sansoni, VP-communica-tions, The Soap and Detergent
Association noted, there is much confusion among consumers, lawmakers and
even marketers of finished products.
After all, the term “green” is simply a
marketing term, with no scientific
basis. “We have to develop a sustainability message and make it meaningful,” observed Mr. Sansoni.
Not long ago, household product mar-
keters could perform a bit of market
research, add a new surfactant and
maybe a fragrance and tell the consumer to take it or leave it; that’s not
the case any more. Today, purchasers
are driving demand.
“It’s no longer, I make it, you take it,”
explained Bill Balek, director of legislative affairs, International Sanitary
Supply Association (ISSA).
The same is true within government,
as state and federal procurement policies increasingly call for green cleaners.
In fact, 16 states have already adopted
green cleaning procurement policies
and six more are getting ready to introduce their own policies. The good news
for industry is that as more states adopt
green cleaning standards, they are
often based on existing policies, so marketers don’t have to face disparate
guidelines. At the federal level, there
has been much activity even under a
Republican president. President George
W. Bush signed Executive Order 13423
that calls for a green procurement policy. Although that Order hasn’t been
finalized, Mr. Balek predicts even more
activity when President-elect Barack
Obama takes office.
“If you sell to the government, and
they want a green formulation, you
have to supply it,” added Mr. Balek.
“And that has an indirect impact on
At the same time, more non-govern-ment organizations (NGOs) are having
an impact on cleaning. One of them,
Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC), is a
driving force on the issue. HSC recently
held a National Summit in Washington
DC called, Green Cleaning for Schools.
Other prominent NGOs include
Hospitals for a Healthy Environment
and the U.S. Green Building Council
Mr. Balek noted that there are 15,000
buildings in the country waiting to be
certified by the U.S. GBC, and that
cleaning plays in an integral role in the
certification process. In fact, it can
account for as much as 40% of a company’s score in certification.
Demands for green cleaners are coming from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) too. The Farm
Security and Rural Investment Act
calls for the use of bio-based cleaning
products, which, according to USDA,
are more benign. The Act impacts a
Down the Drain: Household Cleaner Sales
Here’s a look at sales of household cleaners in key categories in supermarkets,
drugstores and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart) for the 52 weeks ended
Oct. 5, 2008, according to Information Resources, Inc.
Abrasive Tub/Tile Cleaner
Nonabrasive Tub/tile Cleaner
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- 7. 27
- 13. 29
- 4. 13
- 8. 11
- 4. 31
- 3. 15
- 7. 28
- 4. 59