Protecting Aquatic Life with Safe Soaps and Detergents

Georgia Pacific

All soaps and detergents are not created equal. Some have chemicals that could harm fish and other aquatic life. So, when Georgia‐Pacific’s consumer products business found better options for our soaps and detergents, we took the opportunity to make our products safer – without compromising quality.

Breaking It Down

Detergents contain surfactants ‐ chemicals that help remove dirt. These chemicals are great for cleaning but they can be harmful to aquatic life in fresh and salt water. Surfactants that break down quickly into non‐polluting compounds are safer, because they are effectively neutralized in wastewater treatment plants before they reach rivers, streams or oceans.

Safer Choices

In the late 1990s, an EPA program called Design for the Environment partnered with industry and environmental advocates to identify safer chemicals, including surfactants, as alternatives for common household and commercial products. GP listened. Our consumer products business, which includes retail towel and tissue brands as well as towels, tissues and soaps for use in public spaces, switched to alternative surfactants that break down faster in both our tissue manufacturing process and in our hand soap products.

Championing the Environment

Our voluntary change to safer surfactants turned out to be a noteworthy move. Design for the Environment’s Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI) recognizes companies that voluntarily use safer surfactants in their processes and products. GP’s consumer products business received the SDSI Champion award, the highest level of recognition offered under SDSI. The award covers both our tissue manufacturing process and our hand soap products, making our company the first to meet the EPA’s recommendations on both a tissue manufacturing process and an end product – a clean sweep.