What are eco-friendly cleaning products and do they really work?

With all the changes in environmental policies and consumer advocacy, everyone becomes more aware of the need for greener products. Today’s consumer, whether for private or industrial use, is looking out for environmentally friendly products to use for their cleaning needs. But do we really know what we mean when we say green cleaning products or environmentally friendly cleaning supplies?

Our local consumer in South Africa too becomes more aware of the importance of not harming the environment with the chemicals we use. Laser Chemicals is serious about developing greener solvents and eco friendly products for our growing market.

When it comes to chemicals and understanding their potential harmfulness to humans, animals and their habitat, our beautiful earth, one needs to look on one side at what raw materials are being used and then what reaction the chemicals might have when coming into contact with each other or other elements.


Raw materials used for industrial chemical cleaning

Over the years, many harmful raw materials have been used in the manufacturing process of cleaning chemicals and industrial solvents. For instance, phosphates have been commonly used in the manufacturing process and these are extremely damaging to the environment. These phosphates usually end up in the wastewater systems and are detrimental to all living organisms. Too much phosphate causes serious health issues, such as damage to the kidneys, liver and heart.

Today it is possible to source alternatives to many of these harmful raw materials that are both biodegradable and environmentally friendly and have proved to be just as effective as their bad counterparts.  More and more end users today are able to use products that are fully biodegradable and environmentally friendly with the knowledge that they help reduce their carbon footprint, while not compromising on the efficacy of the product. Which is even true for heavy-duty industrial cleaners. The industry as a whole has a long way to go still in replacing harmful chemicals with bio friendly ones but at least some manufacturers have now started the process of replacing their formulas.

At Laser Chemicals , our aim and ongoing research is to reduce wherever possible and/or replace the following raw materials as greener and alternative replacement products become available:

  • Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs)
  • Chlorine bleach/sodium hypochlorite
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)
  • Glycol ethers
  • NP6 and NP9
  • Petroleum based ingredients
  • Phosphates
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Terpenes
  • Triclosan
  • EDTA
  • STPP


Are environmentally friendly – green – products really able to remove even the toughest stains and greases?

Yes, absolutely. The reason we never used them before is because nobody was looking for green solutions. It took us humans living on this beautiful earth a while to understand we’re harming our home and particularly in big industries not much focus or concern was given to this topic at all.

Thankfully our awareness has raised and we are now able to put resources into finding new chemicals and components to create the products that do the job well and are not harmful to the planet. Instead of artificial chemicals more natural ingredients that are mineral and plant-based from sustainable resources are being used. At Laser Chemicals our own research is all around replacing harmful components with bio-friendly ones that do the job just as well and in some cases even better. It’s a journey of discovery and we invite everyone to become more “eco-friendly” with us.


What does ‘biodegradable” actually mean?

At the end of the day almost anything is biodegradable, it’s just a matter of time; a sentence full of clichés just as the topic itself. Unfortunately savvy marketers have been using loopholes to their advantage and unless strict labeling laws are in place they will continue to do so.

The onus is to some degree still on the user but thankfully South African laws are becoming stricter and many manufacturers voluntarily provide comprehensive information about their products.


What is ‘Readily Biodegradable’?

Products are considered ’Readily Biodegradable’ when they have the natural ability to biodegrade to their natural state, when subjected to sunlight, water and microbial activity, from 60-100% in 28 days.


What is ’Inherently Biodegradable’?

When a product is classified as ’Inherently Biodegradable’, it means it will biodegrade to its natural state, when subjected to sunlight, water and microbial activity from as low as 20% to less than 60%in 28 days.

Read more about what biodegradable really means in this article by Jackie Macera.

  • Green products
  • Do not deplete the ozone layer
  • Are non-flammable
  • Do not contain any phosphates
  • Make use of sustainable raw materials
  • Are not harmful to the environment or individuals
  • Much safer to use
  • Give you the results you require


How we as a chemical solvent manufacturer contribute

Laser Chemicals committed a couple of years ago to “switch to green” and to developing eco-friendly cleaning products that satisfy the toughest needs of our customers. Across our range we now provide alternative products for degreasing, cleaning and laundering, making use of environmentally friendly chemistry that is as effective as the harsh and hazardous chemicals contained in regular cleaning products but that do not destroy our beautiful planet or are toxic and safe to use for the consumer.

One of the major issues with regards to switching to green is the often more expensive raw materials needed. As critical mass hasn’t been reached yet this inflates the prices of end products that aren’t harmful to the environment. As more and more people buy eco friendly alternatives the prices will come down. In the interim we at Laser Chemicals have decided to absorb this cost for the time being to help our clients be green at the same price. It’s an investment we gladly made as we believe this is a necessity to create a future for the earth our children inherit.

For example EDTA is a known chelating and sequestering agent used in most detergent formulas to assist with the ion removal to allow the efficacy of the product. We have replace 95% of our formulas using EDTA with a renewable plant based sustainable resource.

We have also introduced a replacement for the STPP in all our SABS approved food grade formulations. We now use a totally phosphate free raw material in these products, our newest addition Bean ‘n Gone is one such example, the only SABS food approved coffee machine cleaner in SA.

We remain committed to this journey to greener products and hope one day the entire chain from packaging to transport, storing, etc. is eco-friendly and can be called green. We’re on this mission and will continue experimenting with our formulas to find the best in green and effective.

Follow this link to get in contact with one of our chemical experts about your needs for green cleaning.