Life Cycle Analysis
Manufacturing a product can be very complex. Raw materials come from many different sources, and obtaining each one of those materials involves a different series of inputs, outputs and processes, each of which has impacts on the environment. To identify the total environmental impact of a product it is necessary to do a life cycle analysis.
To examine how much a product impacts the environment, it is necessary to account for all the inputs and outputs throughout the life cycle of that product, from its birth, including design, raw material extraction, material production, part production, and assembly, through its use, and final disposal.
The first stage of a life cycle analysis is called an “inventory analysis.” In an inventory analysis, the goal is to examine all the inputs and outputs in a product’s life cycle, beginning with what product is composed of, where those materials came from, where they go, and the inputs and outputs related to those component materials during their lifetime. It is also necessary to include the inputs and outputs during the product’s use, such as whether or not the product uses electricity. The purpose of the inventory analysis is to quantify what comes in and what goes out, including the energy and material associated with materials extraction, product manufacture and assembly, distribution, use and disposal and the environmental emissions that result.
The next stage of a life cycle analysis is the impact analysis, in which the environmental impacts identified in the previous stage are enumerated, such as the environmental impacts of generating energy for the processes and the hazardous wastes emitted in the manufacturing process. Once the environmental impacts of all the inputs and outputs of a product’s lifecycle are analyzed, the life cycle analysis generates a number that represents how much the environment is affected.
However, the major purpose of the analysis is to evaluate, once the inputs and outputs are quantified, how the product affects the environment throughout its lifecycle. Once its general environmental impact is calculated, the next step is to conduct an improvement analysis to see how impact of the product on the environment. For example, conservation of energy or water in the manufacturing process will reduce the environmental impacts of that process. Substituting a less hazardous chemical in place of a more toxic one would also reduce the impact. The change is then made in the inventory analysis to recalculate its total environmental impact.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) models the complex interaction between a product and the environment from cradle to grave. It is also known as life cycle analysis or ecobalance.
What is LCA?
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), provides guidelines for conducting an LCA within the series ISO 14040 and 14044. The main phases of an LCA are:
- Goal & Scope
- Inventory Analysis
- Impact Assessment
Goal & Scope definition
The goal & scope definition is a guide that ensures the LCA is performed consistently. In this section the most important choices of the study are described in detail i.e. methodological choices, assumptions and limitations, particularly with regards to the following issues.
- System boundaries
- Multiple output processes/allocation
- Avoided impacts
Inventory analysis of extractions and emissions
A life cycle inventory (LCI) includes information on all of the environmental inputs and outputs associated with a product or service i.e. material and energy requirements, as well as emissions and wastes. The inventory process seems simple enough in principle. In practice, however, it is subject to a number of practical issues.
- Geographical variations
- Data quality
- Choice of technology
The inventory list is the result of all input and output environmental flows of a product system. However, a long list of substances is difficult to interpret that’s why a further step is needed known as life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). An LCIA consists of 4 steps:
- Classification: all substances are sorted into classes according to the effect they have on the environment.
- Characterization: all the substances are multiplied by a factor which reflects their relative contribution to the environmental impact.
- Normalization: the quantified impact is compared to a certain reference value, for example the average environmental impact of a European citizen in one year.
- Weighting: different value choices are given to impact categories to generate a single score.
For each substance, a schematic cause response pathway needs to be developed that describes the environmental mechanism of the substance emitted. Along this environmental mechanism a impact category indicator result can be chosen either at the midpoint or endpoint level.
- Midpoint impact category, or problem-oriented approach, translates impacts into environmental themes such as climate change, acidification, human toxicity, etc.
- Endpoint impact category, also known as the damage-oriented approach, translates environmental impacts into issues of concern such as human health, natural environment, and natural resources. Endpoint results have a higher level of uncertainty compared to midpoint results but are easier to understand by decision makers.
Interpretation according to ISO 14044 describes a number of checks you need to make to ensure the conclusions are adequately supported by the data and procedures used in the study. The results are reported in the most informative way possible and the need and opportunities to reduce the impact of the product(s) or service(s) on the environment are systematically evaluated. The following checks are recommended:
- Sensitivity analysis
- Contribution analysis
- In 1806, William Colgate introduced starch, soap and candle factory on Dutch Street in New York City under the name of “William Colgate & Company”.
- In 1857, William Colgate died and the company was reorganized as “Colgate & Company” under the management of Samuel Colgate, his son. • In 1873, the firm introduced its first toothpaste, an aromatic toothpaste sold in jars.
- His company sold the first toothpaste in a tube, Colgate Ribbon Dental Cream, in 1896. • In 1928, Palmolive-Peet bought the Colgate Company to create the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. • In 1953 “Peet” was dropped from the title, leaving only “Colgate-Palmolive Company”, the current name. • Today Colgate has numerous subsidiary organisations spanning 200 countries, but it is publicly listed in only two, the United States and India.
- The brand name ‘Colgate’ is synonymous with toothpaste. This world- renowned brand is sold in more than 200 countries.
- In India, the company has successfully replicated the strong brand image and awareness in the minds of consumers.
- Today, Colgate is a household name in India with one out of every two consumers using a modern dentifrice. The company manufactures and markets its oral care, personal care and household care products under the ‘Colgate-Palmolive’ brand name.
- Colgate India earns around 93% of its revenues from the oral care segment.
The Toothpaste Market
- Oral hygiene continues to be under aggressive competition, with sales increasing each year making it a Rs. 3,000 crs. Market
. • The toothpaste segment is largely a two player industry, Colgate Palmolive & HUL accounting for 85% of the entire market.
- Oral care is expected to have a value CAGR of 9% at constant 2013 prices to reach INR131.0 billion by 2018.
The Product Life Cycle
. A company’s positioning and differentiation strategy must change as the product, market and competitors vary over the Product Life Cycle. to say that a product has a life cycle consist of four things:-
- Products have limited life
- Product sale passes through different stages, each posing a different challenge and opportunity to seller.
- Profits rise and fall at different stages of life cycle.
- Products need different strategies in different life cycles.
Toothpaste has a history that stretches back nearly 4,000 years. Until the mid-nineteenth century, abrasives used to clean teeth did not resemble modern toothpastes. People were primarily concerned with cleaning stains from their teeth and used harsh, sometimes toxic ingredients to meet that goal. Ancient Egyptians used a mixture of green lead, verdigris (the green crust that forms on certain metals like copper or brass when exposed to salt water or air), and incense. Ground fish bones were used by the early Chinese.
In the Middle Ages, fine sand and pumice were the primary ingredients in teeth-cleaning formulas used by Arabs. Arabs realized that using such harsh abrasives harmed the enamel of the teeth. Concurrently, however, Europeans used strong acids to lift stains. In western cultures, similarly corrosive mixtures were widely used until the twentieth century. Table salt was also used to clean teeth.
In 1850, Dr. Washington Wentworth Sheffield, a dental surgeon and chemist, invented the first toothpaste. He was 23 years old and lived in New London, Connecticut. Dr. Sheffield had been using his invention, which he called Creme Dentifrice, in his private practice. The positive response of his patients encouraged him to market the paste. He constructed a laboratory to improve his invention and a small factory to manufacture it.
Modern toothpaste was invented to aid in the removal foreign particles and food substances, as well as clean the teeth. When originally marketed to consumers, toothpaste was packaged in jars. Chalk was commonly used as the abrasive in the early part of the twentieth century.
Sheffield Labs claims it was the first company to put toothpaste in tubes. Washington Wentworth Sheffield’s son, Lucius, studied in Paris, France, in the late nineteenth century. Lucius noticed the collapsible metal tubes being used for paints. He thought putting the jar-packaged dentifrice in these tubes would be a good idea. Needless to say, it was adopted for toothpaste, as well as other pharmaceutical uses. The Colgate-Palmolive Company also asserts that it sold the first toothpaste in a collapsible tube in 1896. The product was called Colgate Ribbon Dental Creme. In 1934, in the United States, toothpaste standards were developed by the American Dental Association’s Council on Dental Therapeutics. They rated products on the following scale: Accepted, Unaccepted, or Provisionally Accepted.
The next big milestone in toothpaste development happened in the mid-twentieth century (1940-60, depending on source). After studies proving fluoride aided in protection from tooth decay, many toothpastes were reformulated to include sodium fluoride. Fluoride’s effectiveness was not universally accepted. Some consumers wanted fluoride-free toothpaste, as well as artificial sweetener-free toothpaste. The most commonly used artificial sweetener is saccharin.
Many of the innovations in toothpaste after the fluoride breakthrough involved the addition of ingredients with “special” abilities to toothpastes and toothpaste packaging. In the 1980s, tartar control became the buzz word in the dentifrice industry. Tarter control toothpastes claimed they could control tartar build-up around teeth. In the 1990s, toothpaste for sensitive teeth was introduced. Bicarbonate of soda and other ingredients were also added in the 1990s with claims of aiding in tartar removal and promoting healthy gums. Some of these benefits have been largely debated and have not been officially corroborated.
Packaging toothpaste in pumps and stand-up tubes was introduced during the 1980s and marketed as a neater alternative to the collapsible tube. In 1984, the Colgate pump was introduced nationally, and in the 1990s, stand-up tubes spread throughout the industry, though the collapsible tubes are still available.
Every toothpaste contains the following ingredients: binders, abrasives, sudsers, humectants, flavors (unique additives), sweeteners, fluorides, tooth whiteners, a preservative, and water. Binders thicken toothpastes. They prevent separation of the solid and liquid components, especially during storage. They also affect the speed and volume of foam production, the rate of flavor release and product dispersal, the appearance of the toothpaste ribbon on the toothbrush, and the rinsibility from the toothbrush. Some binders are karaya gum, bentonite, sodium alginate, methylcellulose, carrageenan, and magnesium aluminum silicate.
Abrasives scrub the outside of the teeth to get rid of plaque and loosen particles on teeth. Abrasives also contribute to the degree of opacity of the paste or gel. Abrasives may affect the paste’s consistency, cost, and taste. Some abrasives are more
harsh than others, sometimes resulting in unnecessary damage to the tooth enamel.
The most commonly used abrasives are hydrated silica (softened silica), calcium carbonate (also known as chalk), and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Other abrasives include dibasic calcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, tricalcium phosphate, and sodium metaphosphate hydrated alumina. Each abrasive also has slightly different cleaning properties, and a combination of them might be used in the final product.
Sudsers, also known as foaming agents, are surfactants. They lower the surface tension of water so that bubbles are formed. Multiple bubbles together make foam. Sudsers help in removing particles from teeth. Sudsers are usually a combination of an organic alcohol or a fatty acid with an alkali metal. Common sudsers are sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate, sulfolaurate, sodium lauryl sarcosinate, sodium stearylfumarate, and sodium stearyl lactate.
Humectants retain water to maintain the paste in toothpaste. Humectants keep the solid and liquid phases of toothpaste together. They also can add a coolness and/or sweetness to the toothpaste; this makes toothpaste feel pleasant in the mouth when used. Most toothpastes use sorbitol or glycerin as humectants. Propylene glycol can also be used as a humecant.
Toothpastes have flavors to make them more palatable. Mint is the most common flavor used because it imparts a feeling of freshness. This feeling of freshness is the result of long term conditioning by the toothpaste industry. The American public associates mint with freshness. There may be a basis for this in fact; mint flavors contain oils that volatize in the mouth’s warm environment. This volatizing action imparts a cooling sensation in the mouth. The most common toothpaste flavors are spearmint, peppermint, wintergreen, and cinnamon. Some of the more exotic toothpaste flavors include bourbon, rye, anise, clove, caraway, coriander, eucalyptus, nutmeg, and thyme.
In addition to flavors, toothpastes contain sweeteners to make it pleasant to the palate because of humecants. The most commonly used humectants (sorbitol and glycerin) have a sweetness level about 60% of table sugar. They require an artificial flavor to make the toothpaste palatable. Saccharin is the most common sweetener used, though some toothpastes contain ammoniated diglyzzherizins and/or aspartame.
Fluorides reduce decay by increasing the strength of teeth. Sodium fluoride is the most commonly used fluoride. Sodium perborate is used as a tooth whitening ingredient. Most toothpastes contain the preservative p-hydrozybenzoate. Water is also used for dilution purposes.
Weighing and mixing
- 1 After transporting the raw materials into the factory, the ingredients are both manually and mechanically weighed. This ensures accuracy in the ingredients’ proportions. Then the ingredients are mixed together. Usually, the glycerin-water mixture is done first.
- 2 All the ingredients are mixed together in the mixing vat. The temperature and humidity of vat are watched closely. This is important to ensuring that the mix comes together correctly. A commonly used vat in the toothpaste industry mixes a batch that is the equivalent of 10,000 four-ounce (118 ml) tubes.
Filling the tubes
- 3 Before tubes are filled with toothpaste, the tube itself passes under a blower and a vacuum to ensure cleanliness. Dust and particles are blown out in this step. The tube is capped, and the opposite end is opened so the filling machine can load the paste.
- 4 After the ingredients are mixed together, the tubes are filled by the filling machine. To make sure the tube is aligned correctly, an optical device rotates the tube. Then the tube is filled by a descending pump. After it is filled, the end is sealed (or crimped) closed. The tube also gets a code stamped on it indicating where and when it was manufactured.
Packaging and shipment
- 5 After tubes are filled, they are inserted into open paperboard boxes. Some companies do this by hand.
- 6 The boxes are cased and shipped to warehouses and stores.
Each batch of ingredients is tested for quality as it is brought into the factory. The testing lab also checks samples of final product.
Garfield, Sydney. Teeth TeethTeeth. Simon and Schuster, 1969.
Colgate-Palmolive.1996. http://www.colgate.com/ (July 9, 1997).
Crest web site. 1996. http://www.pg.com/docYourhome/docCrest/directory_map.htm 1 (July 9, 1997).
— Annette Petrusso
The environmental impact of toothpaste
There’s been some recent scares regarding highly toxic substances in some toothpastes imported from certain countries. But aside from these headliner issues, what else is in toothpaste that may be harmful to us or the environment?
Over 300 people in Panama died in early 2007 due to toothpaste tainted by substance called diethylene glycol. It’s a chemical used in anti-freeze. Ingestion causes kidney failure, paralysis and often death. In late May 2007, a retailer in New South Wales Australia noticed a box of toothpaste on his shelves also containing that chemical. These were not cases of some psycho introducing the chemical after production; it was an ingredient – and in the latter example, was listed as such.
The diethylene glycol issue is somewhat extreme, but it raises many questions about many everyday products we use that seem to be able to get around health and environmental regulations. Toothpaste and similar items are not a food and not a drug, therefore in many countries they escape close scrutiny.
I decided to check out my toothpaste; a well known brand, to see what was in it. Surprise, surprise – no ingredients listed aside from a mention of fluoride. Fluoride itself is a hotly debated topic in terms of environmental impact – it’s also a cumulative poison.
A visit to my toothpaste manufacturer’s web site didn’t reveal any further ingredient information; in fact, the only way I can get information is to call a special number – no email, no postal address to receive something back in writing. Hrm.
Where does the toothpaste go that we spit out? Down the drain of course, ultimately winding up in waterways. So, what else is in the stuff that could damage aquatic environments?
From various searches I found any/all of the following ingredients may be in my toothpaste; and probably quite a few others not mentioned in this list:
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
Preservatives such as Methylparaben and Ethylparaben
Not much good news in that list aside from the Baking soda and perhaps Pyrophosphate – although anything phosphate based isn’t a great thing to be introducing to our already phosphate ladened waterways as far as I know.
Triclosan is a registered pesticide, used as an antibacterial and antifungal agent and can destroy fragile aquatic ecosystems. Potassium nitrate is also an aquatic environmental nasty,parabens can disrupt the hormones in animals and so on and so on. The artificial flavors and sweeteners (more toxic chemicals) are there to cover up the taste of the other chemicals – it’s quite a cocktail.
One little blob of toothpaste added to a stream will not kill the local frog population, but the problem is millions of us use the stuff. We go through a tube of toothpaste each month in our family, so around 12 tubes a year. Divide the Australian population by 4 and multiply by 12 and that’s 60 million tubes. USA consumption based on our usage makes for 900 million tubes.
And what about the tubes themselves? I think it very safe to say that over a billion plastic toothpaste tubes head to landfill each year and most likely far more.
What are the alternatives?
Firstly, and I think any dentist will tell you this – flossing is very important; so perhaps flossing in conjunction with a more natural toothpaste would be a good approach to earth friendly dental hygeine.
I used to use a fluoride free herbal toothpaste which didn’t seem to do me any harm; but I can’t remember what the other ingredients were. There are a wide range of fluoride free toothpastes available; based on natural ingredients such as tea tree oil, peppermint with the addition of baking soda or salt. Some people recommend a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
Some toothpaste alternatives even come in a powder form in glass jars which are reusable and recyclable.
Good dental hygiene is very important; but so is preserving the environment that sustains us. Perhaps have a chat to your dentist about toothpaste alternatives first before deciding what to try. I do think it’s time we all started hitting the big toothpaste manufacturers with demands for environmentally friendly ingredients and greener packaging.
Oral care products and packaging vary greatly by material and can include different numbered plastics, along with aluminum, steel and nylon. In most cases, each of these components must be processed separately – meaning a tricky job for recyclers.
Garfield, Sydney. Teeth TeethTeeth. Simon and Schuster, 1969.
Colgate-Palmolive. 1996.(July 9, 1997).
Crest web site. 1996.(July 9, 1997).
— Annette Petrusso