Vol 4, No. 1

Vol. 4, No. 1 (September 1998) – Preface

Going Global

THE 4TH WORLD CONFERENCE and Exhibition on Detergents, in Montreux (October 4-8, 1998) provides not only an opportunity to catch up on the latest developments since the previous world detergent conference in 1993, but also an opportunity to consider the future of science and our industry. The theme of this year’s conference, “Strategies for the 21st Century,” is timely. This issue of The CLER Review has been prepared with the conference in mind.

It is worth recalling that the focus of the 1993 conference was “Global Perspectives.” This has become a priority for CLER as the detergents industry has become more global and as potential environmental and health effects of detergent ingredients have become a more universal concern. In response to this globalization, CLER has undertaken three activities intended to benefit the global detergent industry.

First, CLER has expanded from a U.S.-based organization with just two members to an international organization of five major companies with representation in Brazil, Canada, Spain, the U.S. and Venezuela. Our members include CONDEA Vista, Deten Quimica, Huntsman Corporation, Petresa, and Quimica Venoco. As a result of this expansion, CLER is able to track regulatory developments and respond to information needs on a global basis.

A second activity is the growing cooperation between CLER and our colleagues in the European Council of Studies on LAB/LAS (ECOSOL). CLER and ECOSOL are sponsoring a joint booth at the Montreux conference. If you are attending, please take a moment to drop by booth #72.

Our third activity is the increased level of cooperation on environmental and health issues with the international surfactants producers through the European Council of Organic Surfactants and their Intermediates (CESIO), and the international detergent producers through the International Association of the Soap, Detergent, and Maintenance Products Industry (AISE). Perhaps nowhere has the need for cooperation been more evident than in Denmark, where a new regulation on sewage sludge intended for use as agricultural fertilizer may impact detergent formulations. CLER has prepared a paper on the new regulation, its lack of a scientific basis, and the response from the international detergents and suppliers industry, particularly AISE, CESIO, ECOSOL and CLER. CLER will present this overview at the Montreux conference on Tuesday morning, October 6, during the session on “Continuing Improvement: A Global Regulatory and Environmental Vision for the 21st Century.”


This edition of The CLER Review has three “firsts.” One is our first original article. When we asked Dr. Roland Schröder of Henkel KGAA for permission to publish his paper “Computer models as important tools for the environmental exposure analysis of surfactants,” he offered to supplement it with additional research which he had presented at the 1996 CESIO World Surfactants Congress. Naturally, we gladly accepted his offer. The result is a new, updated paper which has not been previously published.

It is CLER’s hope that the publication of Dr. Schröder’s article will set a precedent for other authors to submit updated or original papers for publication in The CLER Review.

Another “first” is financial support from outside CLER for the publication of The CLER Review. We gratefully acknowledge UOP’s generous contribution towards the production costs of this issue.

One other “first” in this edition is the inclusion of so many – 11 in all – scientific papers, far more than any previous issue. Four of the papers are on topics not previously covered in The CLER Review:

  • T.M. Federle and N.R. Itrich (“Comprehensive approach for assessing the kinetics of primary and ultimate biodegradation of chemicals in activated sludge: Application to LAS”) report on the development of a laboratory test that accurately models sewage treatment plants, including the rapid rates of biodegradation observed for LAS.
  • A.M. Nielsen and others (“Biodegradation of coproducts of commercial LAS”) extend the research database on LAS biodegradation with studies on two coproducts present in commercial LAS.
  • J. Tolls and others (“Bioconcentration of LAS: Experimental determination and extrapolation to environmental mixtures”) examine the potential for LAS to be taken up (bioconcentrate) in fish tissue and conclude that environmental samples of LAS are unlikely to bioconcentrate to a degree that would be of concern.
  • L.N. Britton (“Surfactants and the Environment”) reviews marketing and public policy issues related to the environmental aspects of surfactants, including LAS.
  • This issue also includes all seven papers from a science workshop held in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1997. The workshop presents the results of an environmental risk assessment of the surfactants used in detergents and cleaning products, focusing mainly on the four largest volume surfactants used in laundry detergents: LAS, alcohol ethoxylates, alkyl ether sulfates and soap. The workshop was sponsored by the German Standing Committee on Detergents (Hauptausschuß Detergentien) in cooperation with the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt). The papers from this workshop provide an important contribution to the scientific understanding of the environmental safety of LAS and other surfactants used in detergents and cleaning products.

This is now the fourth volume and issue of The CLER Review, which was created to provide readers with a single authoritative source for key research, technology and public policy information on LAB and LAS. If you would like to provide comments on this publication or suggestions for future topics, you may meet with Ms. Laura O’Quinn, editorial coordinator, or me at the CLER-ECOSOL booth during the World Detergents Conference in Montreux, or you may contact us directly, care of CLER, as indicated on the inside front cover.

John E. Heinze, Ph.D.