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Navigating the complex regulatory landscape for antimicrobials

Jonathan Clapp, international senior technical manager for Microban International, explains how companies can stay ahead of microbial regulatory requirements

Microbial growth on products can lead to challenges such as staining, odours and biodegradation, resulting in early product disposal and replacement. The pandemic has raised public awareness of cleanliness, with increasing consumer concerns related to visiting business premises, taking public transport, or reusing products typically considered unhygienic.

This is driving the market for built-in antimicrobial technologies and coatings, a sector expected to soar by 7.1% CAGR from 2021-2030.

Antimicrobials can effectively combat the problems associated with microbial growth, and have been widely adopted for various flooring and wall applications, from vinyl to ceramics and beyond.

Manufacturers can therefore gain a competitive edge by integrating these technologies into their products. Antimicrobials work to inhibit the growth or reproduction of a broad spectrum of microorganisms, and can be incorporated into a variety of materials, either directly into the formulation during manufacture or applied on surfaces as a protective layer.

Antimicrobials are becoming attractive commodities and, prior to investment, it’s important for manufacturers to choose a trusted and experienced technology partner. There are stringent regulatory requirements from governing bodies such as the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) in Europe. These agencies control the application types for the use of each antimicrobial product and set levels for acceptable use in those applications. They also provide parameters to ensure consistent marketing of these technologies, and antimicrobial providers must demonstrate both the safety and efficacy of their technologies for different applications. These regulations are also frequently reviewed and updated according to emerging research and sustainability measures.

Fortunately, this complex regulatory web can be navigated smoothly by partnering with a provider that is knowledgeable in the registration and application of antimicrobial products, providing supporting environmental and human health information, and guiding registrations through to completion for successful sale, use, and distribution.

National governing bodies will review the environmental impact of any new antimicrobial technology before allowing registration, considering any pollution or bioaccumulation risks. The use and manufacture of all such additives are evaluated in terms of environmental and human health profiles, and certifications from assessment systems – such as bluesign – may be sought to identify environmentally friendly solutions. It is therefore important to choose innovative and responsible antimicrobial providers with a commitment to sustainable manufacturing initiatives.

Built-in antimicrobial technologies and coatings can provide significant benefits for many surfacing products, and manufacturers should focus on choosing scientifically-proven chemistries that have been tested and reviewed for safety and efficacy. Selecting an antimicrobial provider with expert regulatory knowledge will help to deliver true antimicrobial products that are designed and marketed correctly for their region of sale.

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