In 2011 the Green building industry took a step forward with Plascon’s move to eliminate toxic preservatives from its products by signing a supply contract with Biodx. First in line to receive the new Green preservative, Indusdx, has been their range of Green paints, Plascon Professional Evolution.
Plascon and Biodx conducted extensive testing for over two years, and found Indusdx’s performance so effective that old toxic preservatives could be eliminated, along with all their disadvantages. It is not an inexpensive process, but an essential one in view of Plascon’s stringent Green policies. “This shows that care for the environment and care for health are no longer optional for responsible companies,” says Biodx CEO Burt Rodrigues.
A further advantage, from a cost as well as sustainability and carbon footprint points of view has been that the products are produced locally, from local feedstock, a specific type of citrus. The extract is produced in a series of complex processes and procedures that constitute the IP (Intellectual Property) owned by the company, Biodx. The products are Indusdx, Nutridx, Vitrodx and Agridx, each for different market sectors such as food, beverage, health, agricultural and industrial, are manufactured locally at Modderfontein Laboratories.
Biodx, situated in the CSIR Mining Research Park in Melville, Johannesburg, worked with the CSIR for 6 years to develop Decont-x, from which the four products are derived. Rodrigues says, “It is based on a natural citrus extract and stabilized with a biodegradable compound containing no chlorine, alcohol, formaldehydes or toxins. It is also non-corrosive and earth-friendly, so does not harm the environment.”
In spite of being classified as “a mild organic,” Indusdx kills or inactivates 99.9% of microorganisms in minutes whether fungus, bacterium, mold or virus. It has proved effective against even stacchybotris black & green mold in the brewing industry, and the notoriously resistant pseudomonas. Indusdx can used as a preservative by formulators for industries such as timber, plastics, cosmetics and cleaning products as well as in paints. It is an effective water purifier with considerable advantages over chlorine. Biodx products have SABS certification and have successfully completed extensive field trials.
A major challenge presented by microorganisms is that, under threat such as from a biocide, they form protective layers above their breeding colonies, called biofilm. This can be extremely hard and resistant to even the strongest of biocides. Because Indusdx is a naturally –based product, and high in protein, the organisms detect it as a food and develop no defensive mechanisms; they also allow ready access and by then it is too late. Indusdx is a true “Trojan Horse” of the micro-world.
“Nature is remarkable,” says Rodrigues, “it holds the answers we need, and we mess with it at our peril. In our arrogance, we have thought to improve on Nature, exploit it for our own ends, and it has cost us dearly, in the remedial measures that need to be taken to clean up the damage we have done. The ridiculous truth is that working with Nature benefits everybody, financially as well as morally. We need other forward-looking, courageous companies such as Plascon to lead the way to a new kind of thinking.”
The Green industry has been plagued by what has been dubbed “Greenwashing,” basically false or misleading claims made for products that don’t perform or are proved not to live up to the claims made for them. Definitions of Green itself, as well as terms such as “organic” and “natural, are unclear and can be misleading and “we need to keep in mind that human and planetary well-being are the objectives – and that includes economic viability,” says Rodrigues, “so we need to make our claims clear and unambiguous”
“Green chemicals have had a bad press,” explains Rodrigues, “because the public has demanded less harmful products, and the chemical industry has tried to respond. But it is not easy to produce something that kills bad bugs effectively and yet doesn’t harm the environment – or people. Nature does it with ease, but the challenge is to harness that intelligence and use it practically.”
Although Green products tend to be slightly more expensive than conventional products, there are no remedial measures that have to taken to clean up after them, says Rodrigues. “The devastating effects of chlorine, for example, are taken for granted, because it has been widely used it for 60 years. A housewife breathes in bleach fumes with no fear. Yet it has been shown to decimate the immune and respiratory systems, clog arteries, destroy essential fatty acids and cause cancer. Its by-product dioxin is said to be 300,000 times more potent as a carcinogen than DDT (which is banned). Chlorine fumes are chloroform. Children and the elderly become dizzy and disorientated in showers because of it. Earth after chlorine doesn’t grow plants. If we calculated the cost of toxins down the line we would all change to Green because there are no harmful effects to remedy.
Going Green has major cost advantages that are not yet fully appreciated, says Rodrigues.
“The savings in corrosion to capital equipment can be astonishing, as can savings in water, electricity, effluent charges, medical costs, absenteeism, and even more chemicals and processes to counteract the effects of harmful, toxic chemicals.”