Interview with Sandra Catarino, Director of Global Strategic Segments at CP Kelco

Sandra Catarino
Director of Global Strategic Segments at CP Kelco

CP Kelco won the 2021 SOFW Journal Award for your paper on sustainable and functional liquid laundry detergents with fermentation-derived cellulose. 

How do you translate this use of fermentation-derived cellulose into the personal care market? 

Thank you again for the honor of receiving the 2021 SOFW Journal Award. In our paper, we mentioned the highly functional 3D network of CELLULON® Cellulose Liquid. The COSMOS® certified grade of our biodegradable, fermentation-derived ingredient for personal care formulation is ARBALON® Cellulose Liquid. It has the same unique and effective cellulose structure as our CELLULON® product. It forms an invisible 3D net to evenly suspend exfoliating or fragrance beads and actives in facial cleansers and body washes with negative impact on viscosity. Like CELLULON® Cellulose Liquid, it is effective at very low use levels – even in low or no water formulations. It is a fully activated solution that is ready to use for processing ease.

Sustainability is a dominating theme in the industry. How is CP Kelco meeting the consumer demand?

Sustainability is central to our business strategy and we are working hard to meet our sustainability goals without compromising on the consumer experience. Our goal is an innovative portfolio of readily biodegradable products that come from zero-waste facilities (defined as >90% waste diversion from landfills) and we are well on our way. We use fermentation where possible or renewable raw materials to source our ingredients. We are shifting from a waste hierarchy to a circular hierarchy. Through our capital investment in resource efficiency, we are seeing continuous energy and water efficiency improvement. As an example, by the end of this year, we aim to reduce energy, water and carbon emission intensity by 10% and hope to achieve zero waste-to-landfill operations. We have also conducted a lifecycle analysis for ARBALON® Cellulose Liquid to measure its environmental footprint and help identify areas where we can further reduce it. We are in the process of completing lifecycle analyses on most of our ingredient portfolio by the end of 2022. 

What are some specific consumer trends, that you can identify?  

We believe the future of product development is going to be about empowering consumers with an abundance of choices and no compromises. Current trends such as compacted and waterless formulations fit right in to these six overarching factors that we have identified: 

  1. “Good for me,” where personal health and wellness take center stage. 
  2. “Good for the planet” means that consumers want companies to show their commitment to the environment and animal welfare. 
  3. Simple and clear labels are important to consumers with more recognizable ingredients. 
  4. Appealing to the senses: Consumer care products become more spa-like to pamper your home and family.  
  5. Culturally comprehensive, which means a respect for all skin and hair types, genders and beliefs, including vegan, kosher and halal. 
  6. Powered by nature and new technology is our commitment to getting the best functionality out of ingredients with sustainable sourcing of raw materials, precision fermentation and minimal processing.

What role will waterless formulations play in the future? 

The move towards waterless formulations is one of the most effective changes the industry can make to help the environment. It will help reduce the amount of packaging, which in turn should reduce manufacturing costs and lower the product’s overall footprint. There could be other side benefits as well. It could also help with online purchasing and shipping costs. Brands typically add water to their formulations to improve texture. CP Kelco can help with our bio-based ingredients instead. For consumers, water-rich products often require more preservatives to keep bacteria at bay and that can potentially irritate skin. Also, waterless products are more concentrated, so they last longer – a win for consumers.

Considering the world situation, how do you judge the supply chain for raw materials and the price development?

These are challenging times for customers and consumers alike. Our global supply chain team remains vigilant in closely monitoring and managing the continuity of material flow and logistics. Because we have seven plants in geographically diverse regions, we are able to work with our customers to help them ensure continuity of their business operations. We are also constantly looking for ways to increase our manufacturing efficiency. We invest in energy reduction efforts and are upcycling side streams of our production facilities whenever possible. These efforts have a double positive effect as it reduces our production footprint and operation costs.

Meeting with clients face to face is still the preferred marketing strategy. Yet taking into account budgets, time, CO2 footprints, pandemic, crisis like war, improved digital systems – what in your view will international events in the future look like?

We just finished up our first trade show in person in a while at in-cosmetics® Global in Paris! Although virtual meetings are certainly efficient, there is still nothing like being able to see customers in person. At the show, customers could experience the different textures of our prototypes and see suspension in action. Plus, we gave a sustainability presentation to an actual crowd. It was exciting. We are also looking forward to NYSCC coming up. After that, who knows, really? A hybrid situation may become a permanent part of our future. On the plus side, it will help with our carbon footprint, as you point out.

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