Less is more: the sustainability benefits of super concentrates

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Super concentrated cleaning products are becoming increasingly popular with both consumers and companies because of their sustainability benefits.  Concentrates are chemical products that are packaged and sold in an undiluted form that perform the same functional as a diluted equivalent.   Super concentrates comprise more active ingredients than regular concentrates and as a result less of the product is needed at the point of use to achieve the same effect.  

The main benefit of super concentrates is that they can be packaged in much smaller containers than their diluted counterparts and take up less space when transported. More product can therefore be transported at a time resulting in fewer trips and a consequent reduction in fuel use.   Pradisha Naicker, Research and Development Chemist from Zone Chemicals, explains that “delivering super concentrates means that the customer can maintain high stock levels that need replenishing less frequently. This, in turn, reduces the number of trips made to the customer.” Because fewer deliveries need to take place delivery companies save fuel and reduce transport costs. For instance Unilever’s international introduction of the super concentrated laundry detergent “Small and Mighty” (not yet available in South Africa) reduced transportation requirements by one third in comparison to diluted equivalents.  

Because of reduced fuel requirements suppliers and distributors of cleaning chemicals also benefit from “a reduction in their carbon emissions associated with transportation” observes Sabelo Dladla , Technical Manager at SAFIC

Furthermore “concentrated products take up less storage space and therefore more product can be stocked on site preventing multiple deliveries” says Dladla.

This SAFIC glass cleaner, SAF Glass Concentrate, is provided in a 100ml sachet (pictured on the left). The cleaner is transported in the concentrated form and diluted at point of use in the 10 litre container on the right saving space during transportation.

Other advantages of converting to super concentrates

Other advantages of super concentrates over diluted chemicals are:  

Less packaging: As the product is physically smaller, less packaging material is needed for individual units. Product consumers also benefit as they have less packaging waste to dispose of once the product is finished. In early 2008 the American company Walmart committed to only supplying concentrated laundry detergents in their American and United Kingdom stores as part of their strategy to decrease carbon emissions associated with packaging and waste in their supply chain.

Less energy used in the manufacturing stage: Since less packaging is required for a super concentrate product over a diluted equivalent less energy is needed to create the packaging.

Less water used in the production stage:  “Concentrated products require less water at the manufacturing stage” notes Naicker. However it should be noted that water is added to the product at the point of use. 

 

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Amanda Botes