You may have turned a bottle of cleaning product over to look at the ingredients. But have you ever wondered where those ingredients come from? They are processed from raw or recycled materials that can come from a variety of sources. That material is turned into an ingredient that gets combined with other ingredients to make the cleaning product you know and trust.
The raw or recycled material used to create an ingredient is known as feedstock. This is a term used across many industries. For example, corn is a feedstock for making ethanol. For the cleaning products industry, feedstocks are used to make common cleaning ingredients, like surfactants used to break up dirt and soils. The industry is working to source feedstock in a sustainable way to ensure that #OurFutureIsClean.
Surfactants can be made from a variety of feedstocks, usually an oil, such as petroleum, palm oil, coconut oil, or some other type of oil. Those oils are processed into the surfactant ingredients that can be used in laundry and dish detergents, hand soap, and a variety of other purposes. To ensure that the oils that make up surfactants are more sustainable, companies often rely on certification programs such as the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to identify sources of palm oil that using sustainable agricultural practices.
If you are interested in learning more about the sources for the ingredients in your cleaning products, start by checking out the brand’s website. This will often have more information about the product than can fit on a label, including certifications. You can also check out SmartLabel, through their website or app, where you can get lots of details about your favorite products, including ingredients and often their sources as well. Some ecolabels also indicate certain sustainability attributes on how ingredients were obtained, ACI has a list of labels to look for and what each one means.