Ahead of the EU’s ban of D4 and D5 silicones in wash-off personal care products from January 2020, German speciality chemicals firm Clariant recently launched a plant oil-based silicone range.

“While [petroleum-based] silicones are used in a wide variety of skin and hair care products to meet consumer demands such as ease of spreadability, deep conditioning, imparting shine and creating a long-lasting soft feel, there is growing awareness of the risks some of them may pose to the environment, with potential for a total ban on their use in some regions,” the company said in June.

The European Commission effectively banned octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4) and decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5) silicones in wash-off personal care products in January 2018 due to concerns that they may go down drains and enter lakes, rivers and oceans, and accumulate in the environment.

Effective 31 January 2020, cosmetics products must not contain more than 0.1% of D4 or D5, a level that effectively bans their use in wash-off products as they must be present in much higher concentrations to perform their intended function.

The European Chemicals Agency is also working on an additional proposal to restrict D4 and D5 in leave-on personal care products and other consumer/professional products such as dry cleaning, waxes and polishes, and washing and cleaning products.

D4 has been identified as persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) and a very persistent, very bioaccumulative (vPvB) substance. D5 has been identified as a vPvB substance, according to ChemSafetyPro.

Clariant said it had launched its new Plantasens Flash 80 and Flash 100 range as a greener alternative to light emollients such as D5.

The range, which utilised oils such as olive, lavender and jojoba, could be used as an ingredient in shampoos, hair conditioners, facial cleansers, deodorants, skin serums and moisturisers.

Clariant said Plantasens Flash 80 and 100 was developed in collaboration with US-headquartered Elevance Renewable Sciences.

The speciality and intermediate chemicals firm specialises in producing novel chemicals from plant oils using metathesis catalyst technology.

Elevance said it was the first company to commercialise plant oil metathesis at scale when it commissioned a biorefinery in Gresik, Indonesia in 2013. Operated as a joint venture with Asian agribusiness and palm oil giant Wilmar International, the 180,000 tonnes/year facility is located within Wilmar’s Gresik oleochemical complex. A second biorefinery plant in Sabah, Malaysia, is currently in the design phase. Elevance also utilises various tolling partners throughout the USA to manufacture products.