Big prize money at stake in search for new preservatives

Big prize money at stake in search for new preservatives

A competition has been launched to search for alternatives to conventional preservatives, with big industry sponsorship stumping up $175,000 in prize money.

Targeting the cosmetics, personal and household products segments, the aim is to identify innovative preservative technologies that demonstrate improved environmental, health and safety profiles.

Organized by the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) and InnoCentive, the competition has the backing of cosmetic and personal care multinationals such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson as well as retailers, including Target, with between three and five categories offering a minimum prize award of $25,000.

Preservatives in the firing line

In recent years many of the traditional preservatives used in a wide range of consumer products have come under increasing scrutiny for their impact on the environment, potential health hazards or sometimes both.

Preservatives that have become particularly maligned include phthalates, triclosan, and formaldehyde, due mainly to an increasing body of evidence suggesting that ingredients could pose specific health problems or have a negative impact on the environment.

In turn consumers are increasingly aware of the potential hazards and are opting for products that contain preservatives systems deemed to be safer.

Who can enter the competition

The organizers state that the competition is open to broad-spectrum or single action chemical agents effective on gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria, yeast and mold as well as preservative boosters and multi-functional ingredient with a primary non-preserving function, but enhance antimicrobial efficacy.

The sponsors say they are looking to partner with innovators to co-develop, license or invest in new technologies to speed them to market.

"At Target, we’re committed to delivering better-for-you products to our guests and investing in chemical innovation is a critical component of this commitment,” said Jennifer Silberman, Chief Sustainability Officer at Target.  

"Our partnership with GC3 will allow us to collaborate with key industry partners to help accelerate our work to bring new, safe and effective preservatives to market for our guests,” added Silberman.

A maximum of five finalists will be invited to present their technologies at a US meeting in the first quarter of 2018, also providing the opportunity to network with representatives from preservative suppliers, consumer product companies and major retailers.

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