There is much confusion and marketing hype over the words “environmentally friendly” or “environmentally safe”. In fact the 2008 publication on Green Marketing by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), states that “these statements are very vague and could potentially mislead consumers into thinking that the product causes no harm to the environment in its production, usage and disposal. Few, if any products could make this claim as the reality is that almost all products have some adverse impact on the environment.”
To assist with all the jargon that comes with talking “Green” cleaning products, we have defined several key product characteristics as being environmentally significant. A definition of each of these is provided below:
Biodegradability relates to the breakdown of substances in the environment by the natural action of bacteria. The rate of biodegradation is affected by the nature of the material, the level and type of microbial activity, temperature, degree of aeration, presence of water and other environmental factors.
Please note that the much used term “BIODEGRADABLE” has NO MEANING AT ALL when used alone.
Chemform uses organic surfactants in its product range that can originate from anywhere in the world. In order to classify the biodegradable nature of these ingredients it is necessary to reference two standards:
- Australian Standard AS4351 “Biodegradability of Organic Substances in an Aqueous Medium”
- OECD “Guidelines for the Testing of Chemicals”
With reference to the above standards, Chemform have classified the biodegradable organic surfactants within our products as readily biodegradable or inherently biodegradable:
The organic surfactants used in the product have been proven to degrade by 70% or more in 28 days under test conditions. The compound will not persist in the environment.
The organic surfactants used in the product have been proven to degrade by between 20% and 70% within 28 days under test conditions. The compound is unlikely to persist in the environment.
CHEMFORM GREEN products use only those surfactants classified as READILY BIODEGRADABLE.
Plant Based Renewable Resources
Chemicals may be derived from two main sources:
- Petrochemical i.e. from oil, gas or coal;
- Plant renewable resources.
Whenever possible, products made from plant based renewable resources are selected for use in the CHEMFORM GREEN range, for example sugar and potato derived detergents and vegetable oil based solvents. As technology develops and more renewable resource derived raw materials become available, Chemform is committed to and will embrace this evolving technology to support the sustainability of our planet Earth.
CHEMFORM GREEN products do not contain any phosphates.
Phosphates act as a nutrient which can promote algal growth and oxygen starvation (eutrophication) in lakes and waterways.
To assist with limiting the ingress of phosphate into the eco stream, Chemform have formulated an extensive range of products which have been designated phosphorous-free. At Chemform this designation means that these products do not contain any phosphates.
Sodium hypochlorite bleach based cleaners are very popular and effective stain removers and sanitisers. After use, sodium hypochlorite degrades rapidly in sewer systems and the environment in the presence of organic matter to ultimately degrade to innocuous compounds (salt and oxygen).
However, there is concern by some that sodium hypochlorite and other chlorinated products released into the environment may produce harmful by-products and adverse health effects.
Whilst the risk of adverse health effects may be small compared to the potential health risks associated with inadequate disinfection, Chemform has formulated a range of products for use by consumers who wish to use only chlorine free products.
The CHEMFORM GREEN range of products does not contain any added chlorine or chlorine releasing agents.
Oil Based Hydrocarbon Free
CHEMFORM GREEN products do not contain any petroleum derived hydrocarbons.
Historically the chemical industry has been dependant on fossil fuels to provide hydrocarbon derived chemicals. Chemform is working towards developing technology and chemicals derived from plant based renewable resources.
Chlorinated Solvent Free
CHEMFORM GREEN products do not contain any chlorinated solvents.
Many chlorinated hydrocarbon (CHCs) are “known” or “suspected” carcinogens which are toxic to humans and also very resistant to natural biodegradation in the environment.
CHEMFORM GREEN products do not contain any carcinogens, which are substances that are known to or be suspected of causing cancer in humans.
Using the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) classification, a carcinogen is described as:
- a substance listed as class 1 or 2A carcinogens by the IARC
- a substance that contains more than 1% by mass of in-use solution of any ingredient that is classified as a possible carcinogen (IARC class 2B).
Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate Free
CHEMFORM GREEN products do not contain any alkyl phenol ethoxylates.
Alkyl phenol ethoxylates belong to a group of man-made chemicals with primary degradation products that can be toxic to wildlife and especially toxic to certain water-dwelling organisms. These chemicals are not readily biodegradable in the environment (classified as inherently biodegradable), are long-lasting and can build up in concentration within living organisms.
Alkyl phenol ethoxylates have also been classified as oestrogenic (oestrogen-mimicking) in humans. Oestrogen is an important hormone in both humans and other animals, which assist with controlling fertility and sexual development. Oestrogenic chemicals have been implicated in incidences of abnormal sexual development in fish and other aquatic animals.
Heavy Metal Free
CHEMFORM GREEN products do not contain any heavy metals.
Some heavy metals can toxic to humans and have adverse effects on the environment e.g. contamination of ground / drinking water and atmospheric pollution following incineration. Examples of some hazardous but naturally occurring heavy metals are mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead. The adverse effects of these heavy metals on humans are various.
Dangerous goods present risks to the unprotected user of the products. They may also present a significant environmental threat should they be stored, used or transported incorrectly with subsequent leakage into the environment.
CHEMFORM GREEN products are classified as NON-DANGEROUS GOODS according to the criteria of the Australian Dangerous Goods Code.
CHEMFORM GREEN industrial degreasers are designed to be rapid emulsion breaking i.e. “quick breaking”.
All degreasers work by emulsifying or dissolving greases and oils into water. It is most advantageous if the resulting water and oil mixture (emulsion) separates rapidly (quick break) thereby assisting in the removal of the oily phase in effluent treatment systems. Once this separation occurs, the oils may then be collected and disposed of by a licensed waste contractor.
Whilst there is no Australian or International standard for a quick breaking product, Chemform define products that are quick breaking as those that form emulsions that begin to break (separate) within 5 minutes of collection in a static water system and achieve 90% oil/water separation within 30 minutes.
CHEMFORM GREEN product packaging is able to be recycled by local recycling systems. Recycling packaging will assist with conserving valuable resources and reduce the volume of packaging entering the landfill waste stream.
Plastic containers and plastic components are made of a plastic type that is recycled in Australia. The product packaging is marked with the appropriate resin identification code promulgated by the Plastics and Chemical Industry Association.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is regarded as the most abundant greenhouse gas (GHG) of the industrialised era. It is produced from the burning of wood and carbon based fossil fuels.
Reducing the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere represents one of the most practicable methods for controlling global warming. We believe that this is the responsibility of all individual and all corporations.
A carbon footprint is “the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person, over a period of time.”
It is commonly expressed in terms of the amount of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (t CO2-e) emitted.
Chemform has undergone a carbon footprint analysis by a third party specialising in this process. Details on this analysis can be found here.
Carbon Emissions Management Plan
An emissions management plan is the next step following a carbon footprint analysis. The purpose of this plan is to identify the major contributors to GHG emissions within a company and determine methods to reduce those GHG emissions. A carbon footprint analysis is conducted annually to measure the success of the emission management plan.
Chemform has developed an emission management plan to reduce their emissions per unit of product produced. Details of this plan can be found here.
Carbon Offset Credits
A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon or GHG made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere. Carbon emissions can be offset (neutralised) by a number of different projects.
Carbon offset is designed for large polluters.
Although Chemform is not a large polluter we offset our carbon footprint because we believe in looking after the planet.
Chemform has purchased Verified Emission Reduction (VER) credits from a West Australian carbon offset project that diverts waste from landfill to be used for composting. This scheme significantly reduces the amount of waste in landfill which subsequently reduces the amount of methane gas (another GHG) being emitted into the atmosphere.
In addition, Chemform has invested in a project that plants trees for land revegetation and rehabilitation. Tree species are selected based on their benefits to their environment. The revegetation project will provide benefits such as wind breaks, reduced soil erosion, reduced salinity, and improved biodiversity and habitat preservation for native fauna. These factors contribute to improved environmental sustainability for regional Australia.
A certificate confirming purchase of the VER carbon offsets and trees for revegetation can be found here.
Chemform is committed to remaining CARBON NEUTRAL.