Like most websites Holchem use cookies, and in order to continually improve our website, we collect non-personal data through cookies.
By continuing to use the website you are accepting the use of these cookies. To find out more read our Cookie Policy [CLOSE]

Environment & Sustainability

We pride ourselves on delivering products and services that deliver quality hygiene solutions for our customers – many of whom have been customers throughout Holchem’s 30 year history - whilst also enhancing their reputation for product integrity and sustainability.

Managing the sustainability of both our products and business as a whole is massively important to Holchem as a business, working to protect and lessen our impact on the environment wherever possible.

Environmental protection centres on the product itself, and product stewardship requires all involved in its lifespan to reduce any related environmental effects. 

At Holchem, we always look to reduce our impact on the environment and continually work to reduce the impact of our operations and products.

The majority of our 400 liquid product formulations are provided as concentrated products requiring dilution at the point of use at between 1% and 5%.  We provide safe and accurate dosing equipment, and have also optimised our key products, keeping any impact on the environment to a minimum.

By optimising our products to deliver enhanced cleaning power but with less effect on the environment, Holchem have been able to ensure our customers see the same, or improved, high quality level of clean, reduced impact of the products on the environment, whilst at the same time lessening the cost of the overall clean.

The concept of environmentally friendly chemicals, green chemistry and reduced environmental impact is complex.  The key point to remember is that detergents and disinfectants, we produce, are heavily regulated by instruments such as Detergent Regulations, the Biocidal Products Regulation and REACH; all of these regulations aim to enhance environmental protection.  However, Holchem can show many examples of our commitment to reduced environmental impact often prior to legislation. For example Triclosan has been used for many years as a biocide or preservative in hand soaps and personal care products such as toothpaste.  Triclosan has a poor environmental profile and tends to bioaccumulate.  In 2010 Holchem implemented a programme of removing Triclosan from hand care products produced in our plant. Subsequently in 2016, implementing decision published by the European Commission states Triclosan (EC No 222-182-2, CAS No 3380-34-5) is not approved as an active substance for use in biocidal products for product-type 1 (disinfectants for human hygiene).

Biodegradability only applies to organic materials, i.e. those based on carbon.  A significant proportion of the raw materials used in detergents are inorganic (for example acids and alkalis).  Although these will be broken down by neutralisation processes they cannot biodegrade.  Many misleading claims are made around biodegradability.

Surfactants are widely used in detergents.  To comply with the EU the Detergents Directive (684/2004 and amendments) all surfactants must be biodegradable.  Indeed even biocides that are designed to kill micro-organisms and thus have an environmentally hazardous classification must be biodegradable. 

Holchem, like a majority of the detergents industry uses surfactants derived from Palm Kernel Oil (PKO). Palm oil is a highly efficient producer of oil per hectare of cultivated land. Holchem requests that all our suppliers of surfactants have an ethical policy towards PKO and support the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The RSPO has developed a set of environmental and social criteria which companies must comply with in order to produce Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). When they are properly applied, these criteria can help to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.

Routinely Holchem screens surfactants from non-PKO sources, for example Sugar, Rapeseed Oil, Soya, or Wheat. All of these sources require land and therefore impact food production, so ethically do not stand up as environmentally friendly alternatives to PKO. It is also possible to use petroleum derived materials; but this is not sustainable.

The traditional method of manufacturing Sodium Hydroxide is by electrolysis using a Mercury Electrode; the result is that there would always be trace heavy metal in the final product.  In 2007 Holchem made the decision to only source Sodium Hydroxide manufactured by the newer Membrane technology.  Since then we have not sourced Mercury grade material for our plant.

EDTA is an essential component of many detergents; it provides scale control in hard water areas and aids the removal of mineral components of soils.  EDTA has a poor biodegradability profile.  Holchem have a policy of ensuring that the levels of EDTA used in products are kept to a minimum.  In some products, we have replaced EDTA with a newer biodegradable alternative. Typically we use around 100 tonnes per year of biodegradable alternatives to EDTA. Eventually we will no doubt replace all EDTA, but today we have to manage supply availability of the newer materials.  

The concept of chemical free cleaning has to be considered with great care, everything (even water) is a chemical.  However Holchem have a number of biological cleaners in our range. These use the minimum amount of chemical needed to create the right environment for benign bacillus bacteria to destroy soiling.

Optimum Bio Washroom Cleaner

Optimum Bio Floor Cleaner

Optimum Bio Drain Cleaner

We source locally, wherever possible, the raw materials we used in our formulations, with many of them such as caustic soda, sodium hypochlorite and quaternary ammonium compounds sourced within 30 miles of our production facility. The concept of Chemical Miles considers the distances involved in bringing raw materials to our factory.

Our purpose-built designed facility at Gateway House, Bury in Lancashire is a modern, low impact facility across 105,000 square feet, fully optimised for the safe handling and processing of hazardous chemicals and operates to the Environmental Management System ISO 14001:2004

ISO 14001:2004 is the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS) with over 14,000 organisations certified in the UK and over 250,000 certificates issued globally.  Achieving ISO 14001 enables business to operate in such a way to minimise their environmental impacts and ensure legal compliance.

By reusing 25 litre kegs, drums and IBC’s as well as palletised containers, we go further than solely meeting our obligations under legislation and minimise the impact of packaging as much as we can. Typically Holchem recycles more than 195,000 plastic kegs/year.

We do this by encouraging our customers to return empty and rinsed storage containers, which then allows us to fully launder and reuse them.

Technical Guide


The Holchem Training Academy provides customers with an ‘always on’ service which helps to cut the car miles necessary for all employees to receive training.

This ensures best working practice and also takes into account the shift systems worked by many of our customers.

Environment & Sustainability Report 2016