Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Why Bio-Based is the Next Step in the Sustainability Journey for Tide

By 3p Contributor

Editor’s note: This post is a follow-up to our recent Twitter chat with Tide and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In case you missed it, you can catch a recap here

By Todd Cline, Tide

Procter & Gamble has been making Tide laundry detergent for 70 years, and a lot has changed since Tide was introduced in 1946. As a member of the research and development team, we’re focused on constantly innovating to meet changing consumer and social needs.

Safety and performance have been core values at the heart of P&G since its founding more than 175 years ago. Over the past decade, we’ve increased our focus on creating a more resource-efficient laundry process.

We have long been champions for detergent compaction -- first with powders and then with liquids -- to increase formula concentration and reduce packaging and dosing, starting in 1988. With Tide Pods, we provided our most concentrated form ever and introduced bag packages which require less plastic and are a lower weight for shipping.

We brought significant cleaning innovation to cold water washing behind Tide ColdWater Clean in 2005, making it possible to get the same clean in cold as previously achieved in warm or hot water. Through education campaigns, we informed and enrolled people to “turn to cold” and save the energy otherwise wasted warming wash water (switching to cold from hot or warm wash can save up to 359 pounds of CO2 per household per year). In fact, since 2010, washing in cold water has increased from 38 percent to 56 percent globally.

We have invested in streamlining our manufacturing process to gain efficiencies and reduce waste, and we are pleased to now produce our newest formula in a zero manufacturing waste to landfill facility.

Now our latest innovation: Tide purclean, the first 65 percent bio-based detergent with the cleaning power of Tide, is available at select retailers.

As a member of the research and development team at Tide who worked closely on the Tide purclean formula, it was exciting to finally be able to share the details of our work during a Twitter chat with TriplePundit in April. A focus on bio-based materials supports our company goals to reduce resource demand and deliver on performance, while offering consumers a simple step to help the environment.

Tide purclean is made with 65 percent bio-based materials and produced at a facility that sends zero manufacturing waste to landfill and powered with 100 percent wind power. By using a blend of bio-based and traditional ingredients, the new formula will increase the use of renewable materials, while cleaning as well as Tide Original liquid at stain removal, whiteness, color care and the ability to clean in energy-saving cold water. Tide purclean is also free of dyes, chlorine, phosphates, ethanolamine and optical brighteners.

We sought certification with the USDA BioPreferred program because its Certified Biobased label assures customers of the bio-based content in a product. Bio-based materials, derived from plants and other renewable agriculture, such as marine and forestry materials, replace petroleum-based, non-renewable content.

Our goal was to deliver a formula with more bio-based material, while maintaining the same performance as Tide Original. This is because our research shows the biggest barrier for most people to use a more sustainably-sourced detergent is the performance trade-off consumers have come to anticipate from natural detergents on the market today. The “Naturals” segment only represents 3 percent of the laundry category, despite 13 percent of consumers describing themselves as ‘niche green’ and 67 percent as ‘sustainable mainstream.' We believe the innovative performance breakthroughs in the new formula will offer consumers the opportunity to take a simple, daily step to help the environment and meet their laundry needs with no cleaning performance trade-offs. And we’d like to increase the use of bio-based materials in Tide and other products as scale and price permit, so we’re continuing to innovate.

Laundry is one of the most essential at-home tasks and presents a daily opportunity for consumers to choose a formula with an improved environmental profile. We hope that by using the reach of the Tide brand we’ll be able to educate more consumers about the benefits of bio-based materials and the USDA certified bio-based label. Ultimately, when more people see there are not performance tradeoffs with Tide purclean, using a bio-based option can become a more popular choice.

Image courtesy of Tide

Todd Cline is Research and Development Section Head for Tide.

TriplePundit has published articles from over 1000 contributors. If you'd like to be a guest author, please get in touch!

Read more stories by 3p Contributor