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Formulator's Tool: GSR System to Calculate Renewable Content
Posted: June 20, 2008
Tony O'Lenick and Laura Anderson describe the Green Star Rating (GSR) system, www.greenstarproducts.org, a unique rating system based on the Empirical formulas of materials, developed to calculate the renewable content of a product...
Today’s consumer and formulator have become increasingly aware of the consumption of resources that are not renewable. Products derived from fossil fuels are nonrenewable. This includes products like gasoline, coal, natural gas, diesel and other commodities. "Green" resources are defined as renewable resources, replenished by natural processes. Such renewable products include oxygen, fresh water, timber and biomass and commodities such as wood, paper and leather. Furthermore, alcohol, oils from plants and seeds are considered renewable.
These raw materials are the most environmentally friendly and their use is the most conservative in minimizing negative impact on the Earth. However, these basic products cannot be combined to meet the demands of the consumer without "less-renewable" help. For example, soap can be derived from renewable sources but it generally does not possess the desired properties of a standard laundry detergent. In order to make high performance formulations, some materials that are not strictly renewable are required.
While the concept of products derived from renewable sources is straightforward, the ability for the formulator and the consumer to quantify this value, say, in a given shampoo or other consumer product, is elusive. Given a proper understanding, the consumer and formulator can make better informed, better educated decisions in regards to products that have the best combination of green properties and formulation attributes. In other words, the need of the consumer and the need of the environment can be intelligently determined.
All too often, the determination of the greenness of a raw material or formulation has been more an emotional rather than a scientific decision, and required an all-or-nothing approach to environmental stewardship. Simply put, materials are green or they are not. Unfortunately, the formulation of consumer products that are commercially acceptable require a trade-off in optimizing the performance and greenness because consumers demand many formulation benefits that cannot be achieved with all renewable ingredients. Some nonrenewable products are required. Thus, a systematic approach was sought to provide measurable levels of greenness in a formulation that meanwhile allows for the trade-off of greenness for performance. This quest has resulted in the development of the Green Star Rating (GSR).