The climate change talks in Paris wrapped up last Saturday with a triumphant declaration that the world was (finally) ready to tackle the problem of global warming. Businesses can have a much greater impact on the environment than individuals, and they could be expected to the lead the way in making the changes that need to happen.
Happily, more often than not, being green is just smart business. The Nielsen report from 2013 shows that customers are paying attention to companies that do right by social and environmental causes—and rewarding them with business. Energy-efficient heating and lighting, as well as water-saving plumbing cuts down on utility bills, and allows landlords to charge more rent. Doing industrial laundry in cold water not only cuts down on energy bills required to heat the water, it decreases the cost of replacing worn linens, as cold water is gentler on fabrics. One estimate suggests that a modest hotel (300 rooms) would save up to 40% of its utility costs by washing in cold water, even after the cost of an ozone generator was factored in.
Detergent science has come a long way since the Romans first used ashes and fat to clean their clothes. Phosphates have been banned from much of the world, surfactants are becoming more advanced, brighteners are getting better at making whites and colors “pop”. For example, sodium percarbonate is an effective oxygen bleach when it combines with water. It works by releasing oxygen that destroys organic stains—but only at temperatures above 60⁰ C. Adding Britebleach NOBS to the detergent mix enhances bleaching at low temperatures by generating peroxy acids, which bleach out the stains. Britebleach NOBS lowers the effective temperature of sodium percarbonate to 20⁰ C, making bleaching possible in cold water.
With all the benefits—cost saving, being perceived as green—why hasn’t doing laundry in cold water become more popular? Well, it turns out that custom and habits often take precedence over the environment and cost savings. In many places cold water is still perceived as providing an inferior clean to hot water, even though tests done with cold water detergents show this isn’t true.
The Sirius effect There are signs that the tide is turning, so to speak. Better chemistry makes better lives, and at Sirius we believe that better chemistry isn’t just about the product, it’s also about the planet, and the lives that it touches. This is the Sirius effect—using chemistry to enact big changes on our world, for the better.