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Consumer Products

Preservatives challenge awards cash prizes

Seven winners selected in competition to develop novel green preservatives

by Marc S. Reisch
August 8, 2018

A model sampling skin cream from a jar.
Credit: Shutterstock
New preservatives may help allay fears about microbial contamination in cosmetics.

Under the auspices of the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3), a group of consumer product companies, major retailers, and preservative makers have awarded $175,000 in prize money to seven developers of new green preservative technologies.

Green awardees
Seven preservative challenge winners shared $175,000 in prize money.
First place winners:
IMD Natural Solutions
Irena Jevtov Research & Innovation
U.S. Department of Agriculture/People Against Dirty/Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry/University of Victoria/Safer Made
Second place winners:
Russian Academy of Sciences
Third place winner:
Chinova Bioworks 

Winners include the biotechnology firm Avisco, IMD Natural Solutions, Irena Jevtov Research & Innovation, and a consortium that includes the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Winning technologies included a molecule developed by the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry group that functions as a preservative during use and then dissociates to inactive and biodegradable components in wastewater. Another winner, IMD Natural Solutions, a start-up firm acquired by Lanxess in December 2017, developed a mushroom extract as a replacement for traditional preservatives.

The Russian Academy of Sciences developed oligochitosan hydrochloride, which it describes as a depolymerized chitosan material with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. Chinova Bioworks developed a fiber extracted from white button mushrooms with broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties.

The challenge, which officially got underway in April 2017, was created to encourage and support development of new preservatives that could be used to prevent microbial growth and spoilage of personal care and household cleaning products. The number of preservatives available to product makers has shrunk in recent years as many ingredients are suspected of being endocrine disruptors, cancer-causing agents, and skin irritants.

GC3 linked with the open innovation expert InnoCentive to organize the competition. Plans called for winners to receive awards between $5,000 and $25,000. The challenge drew 48 applicants, and the finalists were selected by a panel of safety, microbiology, and formulation experts from consumer product companies such as Beiersdorf, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnnson & Johnson, and Kao USA.

Seven finalists gave pitches at a final event in May. “All were compelling in different ways,” says Monica Becker, head of collaborative innovation at GC3, and all were measured against criteria for safety and performance. In the end, all seven finalists were declared either first, second, or third place winners. GC3 is not revealing the exact award amounts given to winners.

Becker says that GC3 is now helping winners work with “interested parties” to get the new preservatives to market and that GC3 will sponsor other green chemistry challenges in the future.


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