Biodegradation is the process in which an ingredient is broken down through natural processes by microorganisms into simple substances, including carbon dioxide, water & inorganic salts, which return to the Earth’s natural cycles. Biodegradation is a key factor to determine how an ingredient will behave once it goes down the drain and helps us understand how long it is likely to be present in the environment after release, or if it is likely to persist.
We are working to make all the organic ingredients in our Home, Beauty and Personal Care formulations meet a high level of biodegradability by 2030. This means, for every product that currently includes slowly biodegradable materials, we will either remove the ingredient and replace it with a similar biodegradable alternative or reformulate the product.
To understand the potential for an ingredient to biodegrade, we can combine existing data, and predictive tools and generate experimental data using a range of internationally recognised standardised OECD/ISO test guidelines. We classify the ingredients based on how quickly and how much they biodegrade in these tests.
We are building on this knowledge to evaluate the current portfolio of materials in our products. This enables us to identify the key challenges and then work with research scientists to support ingredient and formulation design and development. This means we can then formulate products to use biodegradable ingredients. Additionally, we are working with suppliers to ensure they have the expertise to be able to design and assess new materials for us that meet the we have set.