MPCA awarded a $9,500 grant to Ecolab to support a green chemistry and engineering intern project at the company’s Eagan facility.
This summer intern project supported work to complete an information tool that the Ecolab sales team can use to address product-by-product sustainability claims in conversations with customers.
The project was designed to support the education of the intern in real-world aspects of green chemistry and advocating for products with improved human health and environmental impacts.
Christian Hoops (B.S. Chemistry, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities) enjoyed the chance to put his academic training to use. "The internship taught me far more than expected about product use and the roles of common ingredients found in different product types. Along the way, I also learned how products were selected internally for reformulation to improve human and environmental health criteria while still retaining the necessary functionality.”
The Ecolab Product Sustainability Tool infrastructure was vetted and finalized in the summer of 2017, with substantial and essential contributions from the intern. The heart of the tool is ensuring the integrity and robustness of the data used to deliver insights on the human and environmental attributes of products. The primary work of the intern project was to ecovalidate the accuracy of over 7,000 data points related to these attributes, and document the process.
Initial launch will be for Ecolab's Institutional North America, the largest division with respect to the company's sales (35%). Viewer and download trends will be tracked and analyzed, and sales will be monitored to determine which set of Product Sustainability criteria are driving customer product decisions.
Additional project benefits:
- Using the new tool and customer feedback, Ecolab can focus on their highest-valued product characteristics and determine which products are targeted for change.
- The successful development of the North American tool will lead to tools for other Institutional regions; the 2017 intern began development of a tool for the European market.
- This project’s framework could also serve as a starting point for developing customer-relevant criteria for other Ecolab divisions.
Ecolab project manager Lynne Olson noted, "This was the Sustainability 2017 flagship project, and being able to apply Christian’s time and energy to this work facilitated completing the infrastructure. This result allowed the team to demonstrate feasibility more broadly, and has generated interest across Ecolab businesses.”