Each substance, either a detergent ingredient or other products component, has got specific features; among them there are physical-chemical properties, related with their useful functions (for ex.: degreasing action, preservation, etc.), and ecological and toxicological properties, related with their behaviour into the environment and when they get in touch with the human body cells.
Among environmental properties, one of the most important is the attitude to be eaten by microorganisms specialized in biodegradation, usually living into the environment, as well as concentrated in activated sludge of sewage treatment plants. This property is called biodegradability, which is of interest only if it occurs in a short time (few days), so it is definable as easy biodegradability. Instead, if a substance is degraded too slowly, or not degraded at all, then it is called persistent.
Wholly inert chemicals, as minerals constituting the sand, are not biodegradable, but they do not show any environmental impact and are not concerning at all. Instead, non-inert substances, which tend to modify the environment they are poured in, may cause troubles if microorganisms are not able to eat them. Among them there are the following: surfactants and emulsifying agents, whose aim is to detach the soil from fabrics and hard surfaces and carry it into aqueous solution to make it rinsable away; sequestering agents, catching the particles that form limestone and preventing them from disrupting the soil washing; preservatives, but also dyes and opacifiers, anti-redeposing agents, perfumes, solvents called “carriers” aimed to keep perfumes in aqueous solution, enzymes, optical brighteners, specific dyes aimed to make seem bluer and brighter the white fabrics, disinfectants, catalase inhibitors … you name it!
Besides surfactants (as they must be readily biodegradable since 2005, according to Reg EC/648/2004), a lot of the above-mentioned chemicals are not biodegradable or very slowly biodegradable. Here some examples: sodium etidronate (sequestering agent), zeolite (sequestering agent), EDTA (sequestering agent), CMC/carboxymethylcellulose (anti-redeposing agent), hydroxyethylcellulose (thickening agent), 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (preservative), triclosan (disinfectant), chlorine bleach/sodium hypoclorite (bleaching agent, disinfectant), FWAs/Fluorescent Whitening Agents (optical brighteners). These and many other substances keep unchanged into the environment, infiltrating into aquifers and in the ground, going on to have their specific actions, so upsetting natural ecosystems. Some of these chemicals are long-term toxic too, so they are twice concerning.
Since its foundation, Bensos follows strict Criteria for both non-biodegradable and long-term toxic substances exclusion. These Criteria are the only guidance, as Bensos rejects any market logic that works againts them, for making all the products: both detergents and body creams and cleansers.