Fragrance microcapsules are an essential ingredient in laundry care products. They selectively apply the fragrance to fabrics during a wash cycle and then slowly release that fragrance during wear, for long-lasting freshness. The current state of the art is melamine formaldehyde microcapsules. These microcapsules fall under the definition of intentionally added microplastics – plastic pieces less than 5 mm in diameter that are intentionally added to products to enhance performance. As part of the EU’s plastics strategy, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has proposed new regulations to ban intentionally added microplastics starting from 2022. However, today, there is no microcapsule technology on the market that combines biodegradability with fragrance performance and stability in a laundry care product. According to Jamie Walters, co-founder and CEO of Calyxia, project host of the EU-funded EnviroCaps project, “the key challenge is to eliminate melamine formaldehyde capsules, while still retaining and even enhancing the fragrance effects of laundry care products.” Calyxia’s EnviroCaps solution is a world first, offering a new formaldehyde-free, readily biodegradable microcapsule technology, with both high fragrance performance and high formulation stability. The resulting portfolio of environmentally friendly microcapsules with varying fragrances was designed and optimised for cost and performance.
After over 25 years of fundamental research at Harvard University and ESPCI Paris – PSL, Calyxia has developed a fully tested reliable green manufacturing process that creates microcapsule products from thousands of different shell materials. This enabled Calyxia to rapidly screen a massive library of these shell materials, to design microcapsules that combine unprecedented performance and biodegradability. The result was EnviroCaps. “Our approach offers a paradigm shift in the performance and sustainability of everyday products, essential to our quality of life,” explains Walters. The biodegradability of the EnviroCaps shell materials was independently validated by a world-leading analytical testing laboratory (as meeting the OECD 301B standard), as was their performance by manufacturers.
Pivotal technology to battle microplastic pollution
Microplastics remain and accumulate in our oceans for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Without remediation action, they could destroy aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity, and introduce catastrophically high quantities of toxic elements into the food chain. “We are proud to be contributing to the EU’s efforts against microplastics. As new regulations to eliminate intentionally added microplastics are implemented, so manufacturers and consumers will need greener solutions such as ours,” says Walters. Calyxia has already signed commercial agreements with global laundry product manufacturers. The first industrial unit for EnviroCaps production has now been designed, engineered, assembled and implemented, ready for widespread production in Europe. Expansion is planned for the American and Asian markets in the coming years.
EnviroCaps, microcapsule, microplastic, laundry, fragrance, formaldehyde, fabrics