Adopting a better, brighter eco mindset

20 June 2023

It is time for a milder approach to achieving the ultimate result of cleanliness , disinfection and fresh smelling linen

Ideal Manufacturing has been supplying its UK-made laundry chemicals to the independent laundry sector for getting on for half a century, and is know for taking an ethical and sustainable route. “As a pioneer in closed loop and circular supply we’re delighted to announce our recent certification as a B Corporation (or B Corp),” says Ideal managing director Phillip Kalli. “To become a certified B Corp we went through some rigorous thirdparty assessment to measure our impacts. Becoming part of the B Corp community means we are actively working towards a more inclusive, equitable and regenerative future as part of an inspiring community of businesses for good. We know this is only the beginning and we’ll keep working hard to improve our impact with better & brighter laundry.

“The ‘B’ in B Corp refers to ‘Benefit for All’. When you see that a business carries the B Corp logo you know they’ve gone through some hardcore third-party assessments to measure their impact. Applicants are required to provide evidence of socially and environmentally responsible practices relating to energy supplies, waste and water use, worker compensation, diversity and corporate transparency. To achieve certification, the company legally embeds a commitment to purpose beyond profit in the company articles.

“We scored 104.6 points overall on our assessment, that’s well above the 80 required to achieve certification. The average score for businesses who complete the assessment is currently 50.9.”

Kalli explains that in the past few years, Ideal has focused all its attention on innovation, winning two prestigious government-sponsored grants. “We’ve built an industry-leading lab team continuing our quest to design the most eco-responsible solutions for laundries. We recognise the need to focus on that core objective; to make and deliver smarter, cleaner, brighter chemistry, formulated in accordance with our 12 principles of responsible formulation.

Responsible formulation

Ideal’s Michael Manktelow says: “The formulation and manufacture of laundry and cleaning products is an area of everincreasing complexity. The days of washing with soap and water are long behind us, and chemical suppliers continue to innovate with new materials designed to allow for colder washing, more energy efficient manufacture and the inclusion of more natural ingredients. With a vast range of raw materials at a formulator’s disposal it can feel overwhelming to know where to begin. This, along with our own determination to be a leading environmentally responsible manufacturer, drove us to develop our own guiding principles for responsible formulation chemistry.”

12 guiding principles

1 – Prevent waste

Waste is a problem throughout the manufacturing industry, but particularly in chemical manufacturing where raw materials can carry hazards, meaning specialist disposal is required. The best solution is prevention. In limiting the range of raw materials we purchase, we are able to buy in bulk. This means we can buy in 1000 litre returnable IBCs (intermediate bulk containers) rather than multiple 20 litre drums. This is a model which we also always recommend to our customers where space and funds are available. We are then able to take back the empty IBC for washing and re-use.

2 – Functional economy

Functional economy is all about optimising performance. Trends are common in the cleaning industry. Over the past few years, we’ve seen enzymes, optical-brighteners, probiotics, encapsulated fragrances, and odour neutralisers to name a few. When we are approached by a supplier with a new raw material, our primary consideration is product performance over marketing.

This also applies retroactively. Over the past year we have removed opacifiers, dyes and equivalent raw materials from several products because they provided style over substance.

3 – Safer manufacturing

We manufacture all our products in our own factory in Finedon, Northamptonshire. All new and existing formulations must consider the health and safety of our factory workers. We regularly check updated summaries of classifications and labelling from ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) and the UK post-Brexit equivalent to ensure we are on top of any developments.

4 – Design benign products

Safer manufacturing and raw materials lead to safer products. This must be balanced with performance. Formulating a less concentrated product where twice the amount would be required for the expected performance would go against several of our other principles.Wherever it is possible to reduce hazards without impacting performance we do take this approach.

5 – Safer sustainable builders

Builders are additional raw materials added to a detergent to improve performance. Builders are often effective ways of improving performance with efficient use of raw materials, however there are some we choose to avoid. An example of a builder we have moved away from is products based on phosphates and phosphonates. These are common in the laundry industry but have been shown to contribute towards eutrophication – the over-enrichment of aquatic environments. This can lead to accelerated biological growth in rivers, lakes and reservoirs causing algae blooms and impacting other aquatic life.

6 – Energy effi­ciency

There are two factors we consider with regards to energy efficiency: our storage of raw materials and the manufacturing process, and the energy consumption of raw material synthesis and their carriage.

Where possible we buy in raw materials that are fluid liquids or powders at room temperatures. Pastes and solid raw materials are often available at higher concentrations, however these need to be kept warm (occasionally at temperatures as high as 60 °C) and this is always energy intensive. This point has been in focus recently given increasing energy costs. This is a difficult balance, as purchasing materials at lower concentration lowers efficiency: we would much rather use 1 x 100% concentrated IBC than 2 x 50% concentrated where possible to reduce transport cost and carbon footprint.We do always buy from the UK or Europe before looking further afield wherever we can.

7 – Renewable feedstocks

Surfactants and other raw materials can be derived from various sources depending on the product. These sources can be nonrenewable (petroleum) or renewable (palm, coconut, castor seed, sugar beet, and so on.). We formulate with this in mind to use renewably sourced raw materials and higher grade RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) or otherwise certified stock where available. While using RSPO palm oil or other plant-derived surfactants they are not without their own issues. It could be argued that increased dependency on them leads to expanding plantations in areas that would otherwise contain rainforest. This further drives our desire to reduce waste, only use what is functionally necessary for our products

8 – Reduce derivatives

Over time, with requests from various customers, it is easy to end up with a handful of similar formulations differing only in colour, fragrance, or small performance differences. In line with our aims to prevent waste, we have tried to reduce our product range, only beginning a new formulation where there are distinct requirements which cannot be fulfilled by an existing product.

9 – Prefer multifunctional materials

Why use two raw materials when you can use one? Some raw materials can have multiple uses. An example of this would be sodium chloride. This is commonly used to bulk out powder detergents but can also be use d in liquid laundry detergents as a thickener. Amphoteric surfactants are another example as they help to increase detergency, while being very effective foam builders and good at lowering product irritancy. If we can use fewer raw materials per product without impacting performance, we will try.

10 – Biodegradability criteria

The biodegradability of cleaning products is of increasing concern. As of 2004 all surfactants sold within the EU need to pass a certain standard of biodegradability testing, so all suppliers generally meet this criterion for surfactants. This is not true of other raw materials.

We only want to use components that are biodegradable or readily biodegradable, or which don’t require biodegradability criteria, like salt. We do this regardless of whether the law says we need to.

11 – Product stewardship

Product stewardship is taking a holistic view of each product: considering all aspects from production, packaging, health and safety and more. It is about taking a balanced approach to formulation – not getting too focused on one individual aspect of the process. Not easy to do – but when one aspect is prioritised above all else it can be to the overall detriment of the final product. If we can work together during formulation to make a choice of packaging or health and safety procedure easier or more in-line with our principles, this is the approach we will

12 – Right fi­rst time manufacture

There will always be hiccoughs every now and again during production, but we try our best to formulate reliable, repeatable products. Before any new formulation reaches bulk production, it will be made at least three or four times in the lab and have undergone stability testing.


From Ecolab comes AdvaCare ULTIMATE. AdvaCare healthcare laundry solutions will help healthcare facilities to focus on what matters the most: protecting people by reducing infections and assuring perfectly clean and safe hospital linen., says Ecolab. AdvaCare ULTIMATE is a premium washing solution that ensures best-inclass washing performance, the highest operational efficiency, and a state-of-the-art environmental profile, says the company.. Its main features are, according to Ecolab: • Unmatched disinfection starting at just 40°C according to the latest EU Biocidal Product Regulations (BPR)

• Outstanding wash performance at 40°C

• Excellent colour retention & whiteness

• Extended textile lifetime

• EU Ecolabel certi­cate on detergent AdvaCare Emulsion and valid only if recommended dosages are kept (DE/039/021)

• Reduced carbon footprint AdvaCare PRO, meanwhile, is a washing solution that secures effective wash performance, optimised operational costs, and supports commercial laundries in managing their operations sustainably. when washing at 60°C.


Laundry technology has come a long way, says Christeyns, both from an engineering perspective in terms of ef­ciency and fabric handling, and from the science side of things where innovative chemistry has led to solutions that prolong the life of linen, its colour, texture and durability. Howeveer, it says, one of the latest challenges is fragrance.

“Fragrance is a really big thing,” explains Isabelle Letrez, Development Chemist at Christeyns’UK headquarters in Bradford. “Different aromas appeal to different market segments, the UK and Europe have different preferences, with some markets relating strong fragrance to increased cleanliness.”

In late 2021 Christeyns launched new encapsulated softeners, developed and designed by Letrez, which it says have become popular in the market, particularly with launderers dealing with the hospitality sector. ‘Encapsulated Fragrance Delivery Technology’ allows the aroma from its softeners to remain for an extended period of time, designed in such a way that perfume containing microcapsules adheres to the ­bre and break once the textile is handled, providing sustained perfume release. So on getting into bed with fresh linen or using a towel, the rubbing of the ­bre releases a fresh, long-lasting scent.

Letrez’s encapsulated softeners are based on coconut and exotic fruits fravgrances. “The fragrance depends very much on the raw materials. There is a general move away from more traditional lavender based aromas towards fresh, spa-type fragrances. We use panel testing and a process of elimination to get to the ­nal result,” she says.

An encapsulated softener works particularly well with items such as towels and bathrobes, providing a softer and fresher ­nish. Spa and wellness facilities, luxury hotels and B&Bs, can bene­t from providing customers with textiles that hold an intense and long-lasting fragrance.

Protecting the life of the linen is one of the aims in the main wash process, hence the use of a programme like Christeyns’ Cool Chemistry, but it is also an important factor in using a softener. Fibres become smooth and protected thus reducing friction in the wash process, preventing bobbling. Softener also helps keep linens bright, reducing abrasion and helping to retain colour. This keeps the linen looking good, allowing prolonged usage.

Pressing linen, uniforms and other items is much easier and quicker with a good softener, with less energy required in the pressing process. Softener also reduces static cling by neutralising any negative ions. This is especially valuable with workwear items.

ON A QUEST: Ideal quest to design the most eco-responsible laundry solutions

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