Guest author Peder Holk Nielsen discusses how Novozymes is using readily biodegradable enzymes to allow manufacturers to produce a laundry detergent that gives consumers cleaner, whiter, brighter, and softer clothes – while being much more sustainable. 

With a constant current of news about our environment and the strain it’s under, consumers and sustainability professionals may not think about laundry as an economical and environmental concern in the same way as carbon emissions and rising temperatures. But in fact, laundry is a game changer. 

A growing number of laundry manufacturers are recognizing the fact that improving laundry detergent performance can also have a great positive impact on the environment and save people money on their energy bills at the same time. 

Until 2006, competition in the laundry business was really about cutting cost, but as costs plateaued, brands began to compete more on performance. Now, they are using enzymes to achieve aggressive sustainability targets.

As a global biotechnology leader, Novozymes saw this as a huge opportunity to bring our expertise in biotechnology and innovation into the industry.

We sent scientists out into some of the world’s most exotic caves and forests to find biodegradable enzymes that could boost performance in detergents and make them more sustainable.  We had successfully applied enzyme technology to develop sustainable solutions to be used in the production processes of textiles, biofuels and beer – working on solutions for the household care industry was a core part of the business all the time.

One of our most exciting innovations: cold-water detergents. In collaborating with manufacturers, we figured out an exciting new way to make detergents that work just as effectively in cold water as in hot, without compromising on stain removal, color fastness or fabric care. We’ve also found consumers are really excited about low temperature or cold-water detergents because they translate to immediate savings on their electricity bills.

As I see Novozymes’ business continue to grow and evolve, I’m confident enzymes are the future for companies operating in the laundry business. While most companies have been using enzymes to improve performance since the 1980s, we’re now pushing the boundaries to see how enzymes can help address laundry’s biggest sustainability challenges.

[Image credit: Novozymes]

About The Author

Peder Holk Nielsen

Peder Holk Nielsen is an executive vice president at Novozymes and is based in Copenhagen, Denmark.