Top Green Preservatives Awarded


The challenge: To support the development of preservative technologies with improved environmental, health and safety profiles for cosmetic and household products. Forty-eight global innovators accepted the challenge but only seven came out on top.

The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) and open innovation partner InnoCentive awarded recipients meeting the challenge for novel green preservatives. 

Sponsors and participants represented 11 consumer packaged goods companies, two major retailers and five suppliers, including: Babyganics, Beautycounter, Beiersdorf, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson Consumer (J&J), Kao USA, Method–People Against Dirty, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Reckitt Benckiser (RB), SC Johnson, Unilever, Target, Walmart, Dow Microbial Control, Lonza, Schülke, Symrise and Thor, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Urgent Need

Green chemistry innovation in preservative technologies is urgently needed because regulations, market demands and increasing consumer concerns have shrunk the palette of acceptable preservative options for formulators. As such, the GC3 Preservatives Challenge sought submissions on new broad-spectrum or single-action chemical agents against Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, yeasts and mold, as well as preservative boosters.

Related: The Preservative Challenge: Free Ebook

The winners included:

First Place

  • Avisco Ltd., for a standardized Inula viscosa extract-based preservative and antioxidant; and a marine anti-fouling agent and topical treatments; 
  • IMD Natural Solutions GmbH, for its Glyconex brand (INCI: Glycolipids) natural preservative, derived from mushroom;
  • Irena Jevtov Research & Innovation, whose portfolio of preservatives for cosmetics is focused on well-defined single compounds or low-complexity mixtures of natural origin with broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects; and
  • United States Department of Agriculture/People Against Dirty/Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry/University of Victoria/Safer Made, whose collaboration devised a "reversible" molecule that functions as a preservative during use, then dissociates to inactive, benign and biodegradable subcomponents after disposal in waste water.

Second Place

  • Hydromer, Inc., for its natural, herbal-based technology combining carvacrol with lecithin for a natural preservative; and
  • Russian Academy of Sciences, for oligochitosan hydrochloride, an extensively depolymerized chitosan material that has very low molecular weight and broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity for cosmetic gels, lotions and creams; medical products; food; beverages; and home care.

Third Place

  • Chinova Bioworks, for a broad-spectrum natural antimicrobial from a fiber extracted from white button mushrooms. This fiber, chitosan, is an effective clean label alternative to synthetic preservatives that can target specific spoilage microbes and provide broad spectrum coverage.

Judgment Day

The innovators presented their technologies to sponsors at a private event on May 7, 2018, in conjunction with the GC3 Annual Innovators Roundtable. After submissions were formulated into three simple products, the preservative technologies were evaluated for safety and efficacy by contractors Syracuse Research Corporation and Cosmetech Laboratories, Inc., respectively.

The innovators received the results from the safety and performance evaluations and feedback from the judges. The finalists received portions of a prize pool valued at $175,000.

Plus, according to Monica Becker, GC3’s Director of Collaborative Innovation, the sponsors are now working toward partnerships with the innovators to evaluate their preservatives for use in products or for co-development, licensing or investment, to commercialize and scale these technologies.

Innovation and Collaboration

According to Becker, the preservative challenge not only stimulated innovation, it also fostered learning and collaboration among peers across the supply chain as they discussed and evaluated the solutions.

“The GC3 created a unique, precompetitive platform for experts from the entire value chain to work together to address a common challenge: the need for new preservative technologies,” said Becker.

Sponsor Insight

 “J&J was delighted to sponsor this unprecedented initiative that enabled companies to pool their knowledge and experience to identify promising new technologies for preservation and accelerate their application in the market,” said Homer Swei, director of product stewardship, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

Kaj Johnson, senior director of product development at People Against Dirty (parent company of Method and Ecover), added, “We are constantly scouting for new, safer ingredients for our products, and preservatives are an important focus. By collaborating with our peers in this competition, we learned about and evaluated the efficacy of new solutions that we had not found on our own, and now we may be able to help innovators bring those solutions to market and scale for the benefit of all."

Winner Response

“We are delighted to receive an award in the GC3 Preservatives Challenge,” said Thomas Henkel, senior business development manager, IMD Natural Solutions GmbH (INS). “This was an incredible opportunity to present our natural preserving agents to potential customers and partners, and we gained valuable insights from our conversations with the CPG companies and suppliers that are seeking new preservatives.”

Looking Ahead

“Propelled by the success of the Preservatives Challenge to accelerate green chemistry innovation and market activity, we look forward to establishing additional collaborative innovation projects that target other priority technology areas,” said Becker. 

Green Chem Finalists700
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