Interview with Holger Hüppeler, Head of the Flavors & Fragrances Business Unit at Lanxess

Holger Hüppeler

Consumers are placing increasing value on safe, sustainable and high-performance products. 

How is Lanxess responding to this trend?

Preservatives are an essential ingredient in the formulations of household care products, personal care products and cosmetics. Not only do they play a central role in preventing products from becoming contaminated by fungi and bacteria, they are also critical for sustainability.

Effectively preserved products are essential for sustainability. This is because the extended shelf life of preserved products allows them to be shipped, stored, sold to consumers and consumed completely before the product is expected to spoil.

This reduces the waste generated by having to dispose of spoiled products before they are fully consumed. In addition, individual packaging often comes into play to extend the shelf life of an unpreserved product - and this creates a greater environmental impact compared to properly preserved products. 

You have production sites on three continents. What advantages does this give your customers?

We are the only supplier with production sites on three continents. We are therefore present with production facilities in all the world’s sales markets.   

This offers several advantages: Especially in times of rising freight costs and geopolitical challenges, our customers appreciate short delivery times, high availability, low freight costs and efficient supply chain. 

By combining LANXESS’ existing benzyl products with those of Emerald Kalama Chemical under one roof, we can benefit from synergies along the entire value chain for these important building blocks. We are more independent of suppliers, can manage our value chain more efficiently and can assure our customers of better availability as well as cost and time advantages.

In Europe, we have sites in Krefeld-Uerdingen, Germany, Widnes, England, and Rotterdam, Netherlands. The plant there is something very special. It was modernized in 2017 so that we are the only company in the world that can produce high-purity benzoates. Another site is located in Nagda, India, and – last but not least – of course in Kalama in the United States. In fact, we are the only manufacturer of benzoic acid and its derivatives in the United States.

What role does eco-friendly packaging play in formulation, and how does Lanxess support this challenge?

Plastics are being replaced more and more by paper in packaging, and this brings new requirements for preservatives. This is because plastic packaging offers increased preservation that is quickly eliminated in other packaging. Conventional preservation approaches are therefore often not sufficient.

We develop individual and effective solutions for our customers. For example, we can combine our antimicrobial benzoates with multifunctional active ingredients and synergists, like glycols and aromatic alcohols. This improves preservation robustness and performance and ultimately also helps to shorten INCI lists.

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Preservatives are still viewed critically by consumers. What sustainable solutions can you offer?

What may not be clear to all consumers: usually it doesn’t work without preservatives. As soon as a cosmetic or personal care product contains water – and nowadays almost all of them do – microorganisms can spoil the product once it has been opened. This must not happen, because on the skin, contaminated cosmetic products can cause severe irritation or even infections.

Consumers of course have high expectations. Products should be skin-friendly and also suitable for sensitive users. The trend is clearly toward “green label” products and natural ingredients. Our benzoic acid and benzoates are nature-identical, have a reliable effect, but at the same time are much gentler on the skin than many other products. In addition, they are readily biodegradable. They therefore make it possible to label the end product with “green” certifications such as Ecocert COSMOS or the Blue Angel. 

Our range of preservatives also includes many other products, such as blends made from 100 percent renewable ingredients. And we are also analyzing our production streams to see to what extent we can use more renewable raw materials. 

Will you also present these products at the SEPAWA Congress in Berlin? 

This year, we will be represented at the SEPAWA Congress. Interested visitors can also obtain comprehensive information online about our extensive range of products for the detergent industry. 

Dishwashing detergents, liquid laundry detergents, fabric softeners and all-purpose cleaners are exposed to microbial contamination during production and storage. To protect these products and extend their shelf life, LANXESS has a wide range of suitable preservatives on hand.

The sodium and potassium benzoates of the Kalama, Purox and Kalaguard brands gently preserve personal care and home care products that have a pH value of up to 6.5. They are used primarily as nature-identical preservatives and safely inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds. They are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as food additives and preservatives. Kalaguard SB, for example, is the only sodium benzoate approved in the U.S. and Europe for household applications such as fabric softeners, detergents and dishwashing products. Its plus points: It is not irritating to the skin and is approved for use in green label programs such as Ecolabel and Nordic Swan.



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