Passing the Smell Test: Clorox Expands Fragrance Disclosure

Catharine de LacyEarlier this month, Clorox announced its adoption of the Preferred Ingredient Calculator and expansion of its Ingredients Inside program to include specific fragrance components. To provide more insight on this announcement, we caught up with Catharine de Lacy, Clorox’s vice president of Global Stewardship, who leads our global product safety, regulatory, environmental, public health and outreach activities.

Please tell us a little more about Clorox’s recent ingredient-related news.
The Clorox Preferred Ingredient Calculator is designed to help our product developers consider the sustainability profiles of different raw materials and formulations when making decisions about ingredients used in the company’s cleaning products, including an analysis of human health, environmental health and sustainability metrics.

We also announced that in early 2015, we’ll be expanding our voluntary Ingredients Inside program to include fragrance components that are identified as potential allergens by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, an advisory board to the European Union. The expanded initiative will list these fragrance components if they are present at a concentration of more than 0.01 percent in the company’s U.S. and Canadian cleaning, disinfecting and laundry products.

Why is Clorox making these changes to the Ingredients Inside program?
Consumers are asking for this kind of information. They want to know what’s in the products they use in their homes and around their families. We’re continually looking for ways we can expand our transparency and meet consumer needs. Clorox was the first major CPG company to introduce a voluntary product ingredient communication program for its cleaning, disinfecting and laundry products in the U.S. and Canada in 2009. Since then, we’ve added information about preservatives, dyes and the fragrance palette used in our products.

Why were fragrance components disclosed later than other ingredients?
Fragrances are both a science and art. The “secret sauce” of each fragrance is a combination of sometimes upward of 100 different components, and each recipe is protected by the fragrance houses for competitive reasons. Providing the universal list of fragrance ingredients used in our products was the first step – and significant one. That said, as with any relationship, it takes time to move forward, and disclosing the ingredients that are used in a fragrance associated with a specific product is the next step in partnering with our fragrance suppliers.

How does disclosing these specific fragrance components help consumers?
Most consumers have not had problems using products containing fragrances, and many choose products based on their scent. However, for those who are highly sensitive to product fragrances, listing out these potential allergens gives them greater visibility — and hopefully greater peace of mind — about what’s in the products they use. This will help consumers make more informed choices about their product purchases.

More broadly, our R&D team is committed to driving more knowledge and transparency, internally and externally. As we make progress internally through programs like the Preferred Ingredient Calculator, which helps us better understand the sustainability of our formulas, we see that benefiting consumers externally through our product formulations and disclosures. Clorox has been a trusted household name for more than a century, and through programs like this, we plan to continue to earn that trust.

iphone_appHow can consumers access this fragrance information?
Specific fragrance components will be available beginning in early 2015. In the meantime, consumers can access current product information for our cleaning, disinfecting and laundry products in the U.S. and Canada on the Ingredients Inside and mobile websites. It’s also available via our free iPhone® app, which enables consumers to scan a product’s UPC code and pull up ingredient information at the shelf while they’re shopping.

Related post: Eight Questions for Clorox’s Product-Sustainability Guru

For more than 20 years, Catharine de Lacy has served as a senior executive and corporate officer responsible for leading high performing global stewardship, sustainability, environment, health, safety, and remediation teams and programs across a wide range of industry segments (CPG, oil & gas, chemicals and plastics, mining and industrial manufacturing).Catharine has a passion for sustainability, improving end of life and cancer care, education, and ending homelessness as has served as a volunteer and board member for such organizations as Second Nature, Natural Step, Care Dimensions, Tufts University, and Heading Home. She enjoys lifelong learning, reading, golf, sailing, crossword puzzles, playing Scrabble and spending time with her husband Shawn and their English Cocker, Duncan.