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How Bio-Based Surfactants are Turning the World Green

Croda Inc
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Bio-based products contain biological components such as agricultural, forestry and marine materials. Bio-based content refers to the ratio of non-fossil organic carbon, such as plant-sourced or agricultural-based elements, to total organic carbon from fossil fuels.

Bio-based innovation presents sustainable opportunities to lower petroleum consumption by raising renewable resources and reducing the amount of additional carbon in the atmosphere.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred program supports the growth of bio-based product markets. USDA-certified bio-based products can display certification and labeling, signaling their percentage of bio-based content and indicating their greener nature to consumers. Currently, there are over 3,500 certified bio-based items on the USDA BioPreferred catalog.

“Demand for responsibly-sourced products is growing exponentially,” Kate Lewis, USDA BioPreferred Program, revealed at the Cleaning Products Summit in September 2019. Bio-based products contributed $459 billion to the US economy in 2016. With no signs of slowing down, the USDA anticipates consumer preferences for bio-based products will increase. The USDA also revealed that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, with 77% of Millennials agreeing. 

Significant R&D has enabled high-quality and high-functionality bio-surfactant formulations—which can be derived from biomass/plant oils and via fermentation using sugar/yeast—to travel from the laboratory to niche applications to wider commercial-scale production.

With over 100 USDA BioPreferred products, Croda currently leads the number of bio-preferred products in chemical personal care, versus its peer group average of 17, and we continue to expand our range.

Croda also has the fourth-highest number of products in the USDA BioPreferred program out of 3,247 companies across all industries, Morgan Stanley’s research report on The Bio Revolution highlights. Holding a “unique position in the market,” the report outlines how Croda can “leverage a route to bio that others lack.”

Aiming to turn the world’s products green, Croda expanded its commercial-scale bio-based manufacturing capabilities and technology leadership in renewable raw materials by unveiling its 100% bio-based ethylene oxide production facility — the key raw material used to produce surfactants.

Our sustainable innovation has been celebrated. In 2019, we won both the Bio-Based Industry Story of the Year accolade and Bio-based World News Innovation Award.

The first-of-its-kind plant built in the US for the manufacture of 100% renewable, 100% bio-based, non-ionic surfactants is located at Croda’s Atlas Point manufacturing site in New Castle, Delaware. 

Bio-based surfactant innovation progresses global sustainability efforts

Using 100% renewable bioethanol derived from natural feedstocks, the facility displaces the use of petrochemical naphtha and natural gas as raw materials, creating performance identical to petrochemical-based options. Producing a lower carbon footprint than petrochemically derived products, the plant only accepts bioethanol from natural feedstocks, which contain carbon gathered from the atmosphere by photosynthesis.

Reducing its reliance on petrochemical feedstocks, using an increased level of renewable energy to manufacture and eliminating rail transportation of ethylene oxide are all part of Croda’s ongoing assessment of its products’ total life cycle impact—and its contribution toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The widest collection of 100% renewable surfactants on the market, Croda’s Eco range advances the creation of cosmetics and hair care products. The range provides emulsification, detergency and cleansing, and solubilization benefits while delivering mild and stable formulations. The range represents worldwide consumer calls for more sustainable, natural and environmentally friendly products.


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