A detergent is a mixture of a surfactant, builder, bleach, bleach activator and other additives such as fluorescent brighteners, antifoaming agents and enzymes. Increasing implementation of rules and regulations with respect to environment and safety along with the increasing cost and competition compel detergent manufacturers to seek cheaper, environment-friendly, less toxic bio-based and sustainable alternative raw materials such as builders. A zeolite is an effective and environment-friendly substitute for commonly used phosphate builders such as Sodium Tri-Polyphosphate (STPP) in the detergent industry.
A zeolite is basically a hydrated crystalline aluminum silicate, which functions as an ion exchanger that makes the water soft by replacing the water hardness ions (magnesium and calcium) with sodium ions. Moreover, the utilization of phosphate builders can cause eutrophication of freshwater, through increasing nutrients (N, P) in an ecosystem and by nourishing excessive amounts of algae. Zeolites possess several advantages over other builders such as porous structure, resistance to high temperature, pressure and oxidation and eco-friendly nature. Among the different types of zeolites, synthetic zeolites are mainly used for builder applications in detergents.
The detergent industry has witnessed significant growth over the past few years. Moreover, with positive socio-economic trends such as rapid population growth and rise of an affluent middle class in the emerging markets of India and China, the detergent market is expected to have a positive outlook for the long term growth, which in turn is expected to significantly drive the demand for detergent grade zeolite. Moreover, recognition of a connection between the increasing phosphate content in freshwater and subsequent eutrophication of water bodies, due to the utilization of phosphate builders in detergents, gave rise to environmental concerns, which in turn are leading to the implementation of regulations aimed at reducing the consumption of phosphate builders and promoting the utilization of alternative builders such as detergent grade zeolite.
High product stability and higher flexibility of zeolites with respect to formulation and ease of processing, together with economic and environmental advantages of raw materials, have led to the emergence of zeolites as extremely attractive builders. Furthermore, with an increase in the demand for compact detergents, the demand for zeolite builders is expected to gain significant traction. Key manufacturers are focusing on research and development activities for developing innovative detergent grade zeolites with improved performance and increasing their production capacity to meet the growing demand for detergent grade zeolite.
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North America dominates the detergent grade zeolite market and is expected to remain dominant in the coming years. In the U.S., the utilization of phosphate builders has been banned since 1993; hence, detergent manufacturers are compelled to utilize alternatives such as zeolites over phosphate for builder applications. The U.S. dominates the North America detergent grade zeolite market and Europe is expected to follow North America. The stringent regulations implemented by REACH in Europe and rising environmental concerns are expected to drive the detergent grade zeolite market in Europe in the coming years. China dominates the detergent grade market in terms of production and the market in the region is expected to be the fastest growing one, due to the implementation of strict environmental regulations and policies along with the rising environmental concerns. Asia Pacific is also expected to witness significant growth over the forecast period. Latin America and MEA are expected to witness significant growth rates in the coming years.
Examples of some of the key players identified in the global detergent grade zeolite market are:
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On the basis of zeolite type, the detergent grade zeolite market can be segmented as:
On the basis of product type, the detergent grade zeolite market can be segmented as: