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What is plant derived?

What’s could be wrong with “Plant-Derived”?


Sometimes marketing campaigns can be misleading. Many “eco” products make claims that they do not contain any oil-derived ingredients, and that means that they are more environmentally friendly. That may be somewhat true for detergent ingredients derived from corn, oranges or some other common, established farmed crop. The problem is that ingredients derived from these sources typically do not perform well in tough cleaning applications. Demand for more exotic plant extracts (such as coconuts, sugar cane, flower fragrances among others) can result in exploitation and over utilization of the limited farmland in far off places. Slashing and burning of rainforest is usually in response to demand for exotic cultivated crop extracts. Often it takes hundreds of pounds of plant crops to yield a few ounces of useable plant extracts. In most cases, all of the remaining plant is wasted to recover just those few ounces of usable extract. These low yields mean even more arable farmland is needed, resulting in more pressure on the wild ecosystems. In addition, pollution caused by fertilizer run off can drastically change ecosystems. The point is, just because a product is “plant-derived” does not mean it is any more environmentally friendly than ingredients derived from oil.


But what about “Oil-Derived” products?

Many product claim that they use ingredients derived from “plant extracts” and that is somehow better than those derived from “oil byproducts”. Crude oil is the basis for many, many things commonly used in everyday life, including paint, clothing fabrics, plastics, soaps, building materials as well as fuel. During the crude oil refining process that produces gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil, there are byproducts produced. Instead of being “disposed of” they are used as the basis to produce useful, high performance ingredients used in cleaners, cosmetics, paints, polishes, and thousands of other products used in commercial and home applications. The vast majority of these oil-derived detergent ingredients are organic, non-hazardous and biodegradable. Let us not forget that oil is derived from crushed plants over millions of years of pressure. They are derived from (non crude) oil-byproducts that would normally be disposed of, leading to environmental pollution. Instead of polluting, they are made into useful products that people use resourcefully everyday.


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