Oleochemicals: Driving positive sustainability impact in the chemical Industry: Vishal Sharma, ED & CEO, Godrej Industries Ltd (Chemicals)

Oleochemicals: Driving positive sustainability impact in the chemical Industry: Vishal Sharma, ED & CEO, Godrej Industries Ltd (Chemicals)

We are exploring technologies such as microbial production and enzymatic reactions to further enhance sustainability in the future

  • By Vishal Sharma , ED & CEO, Godrej Industries Ltd (Chemicals) | June 13, 2024

The chemical industry produces a vast array of products essential to our daily lives. While it generates substantial economic and social value, it also relies heavily on non-renewable resources and raises significant environmental concerns. Given the finite nature of these resources, it is crucial to use and protect them judiciously.

The industry must prioritize the development of products that provide sustainability benefits and are manufactured through green, sustainable processes using renewable feedstocks. By adopting the principles of green chemistry, chemical manufacturing can achieve significant sustainability benefits, a fact that has garnered considerable recognition in recent years. Oleochemicals, derived from renewable sources, exemplify this approach and contribute to a more sustainable future in the chemical industry.

Oleochemicals, derived from natural fats and oils such as palm oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, canola oil, and coconut oil, offer a renewable and sustainable alternative to traditional petrochemicals. These chemicals boast several environmentally friendly qualities, including biodegradability, low toxicity, and the ability to decompose without causing pollution.

Moreover, fats and oils can be easily converted or derived into a variety of useful chemicals, such as fatty acids, alcohols, esters, amines, nitriles, and quaternary compounds. These derivatives have applications across numerous industries, making oleochemicals a versatile and eco-friendly choice.

Application of oleochemicals

Oleochemical derivatives are used in a wide range of industries, including: Personal care, Home care, Food and beverages, Pharmaceuticals, Agrochemicals, Paints and coatings, Textiles, Lubricants, Oil and Gas etc.

With growing consumer awareness, stringent regulatory requirements, and heightened environmental concerns, oleochemicals are finding new applications in these segments. Additionally, oleochemicals play a significant role in the production of biodiesel, further emphasizing their importance in sustainable development.

Enhancing Sustainability in Oleochemicals at Godrej Chemicals 

Godrej Chemicals is dedicated to integrating green chemistry principles into our oleochemical production, emphasizing sustainable practices, and minimizing environmental impact. This commitment positions us as a leader in the shift towards more sustainable industrial practices, offering a competitive and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petrochemicals.

Renewable and Safer Feedstocks:

We prioritize the use of bio-based renewable feedstocks, ensuring a sustainable supply through controlled agricultural practices. By adopting sustainable practices like RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), we promote circularity and reduce environmental impact. Our oleochemicals, derived from natural sources, exhibit low toxicity, making them ideal for use in home and personal care products, including baby care products.

Environmentally Friendly Processes:

Godrej Chemicals is dedicated to safer chemical synthesis by reducing toxicity to human health and the environment. We are developing innovative catalysis methods using biobased catalysts, such as enzymes and fermentation processes. For instance, biodegradable surfactants derived from vegetable oils (Fatty Alcohol Sulfates and Ethoxylates) can replace petro-based surfactants (Alkyl Benzene and Nonyl Phenol) in household and personal care products, significantly reducing their environmental impact. Additionally, the linear and aliphatic nature of vegetable oils and oleochemicals makes them naturally and readily biodegradable, ensuring they break down into harmless products and do not persist in the environment.

Energy and Waste Efficiency:

Despite the high energy requirements of traditional oleochemical processes, we offset this through benefits like cold-processable formulation ingredients and continuous efforts to enhance energy efficiency. Our processes maximize material utilization, minimizing waste. For example, the fat splitting process yields glycerine and fatty acids, both of which are fully utilized, resulting in zero waste. We also minimize solvent use, often relying on aqueous media and neat reactants.

Advanced Monitoring and Safety:

We employ monitoring techniques such as HPLC and GC to ensure high product quality and minimize waste generation. Stringent controls and mitigating systems are implemented to minimize the risk of chemical accidents, including managing emissions and safely handling potentially hazardous substances. Additionally, we are exploring technologies such as microbial production and enzymatic reactions to further enhance sustainability in the future. By integrating these practices, we emphasize our commitment to sustainability and reduced environmental impact.

About Godrej Chemicals and Our Commitment to Green Chemistry

Godrej Chemicals has a long history of innovation and commitment to sustainability. As pioneers in the Indian oleochemical industry, we have consistently led the way in developing environmentally friendly products and processes.

Godrej was the first company in India to manufacture soaps from fatty acids, quickly transitioning from animal fats to a focus on 100% vegetable oil-based fatty acids. This early shift underscores our long-standing dedication to sustainable and renewable resources.

We were also the first organization in the world to conceptualize making a surfactant from vegetable oil. Although this concept was not viable in the early 1990s, it has gained renewed interest and evaluation by global leaders since the early 2020s. This innovation led to the introduction of Alpha Olefin Sulfonate (AOS) in India, which is now produced from Alpha Olefins obtained by the oligomerization of ethylene.

Furthermore, we pioneered the manufacture of fatty alcohols from vegetable oils in India, continuing our tradition of using renewable resources to create high-quality oleochemicals.

Our commitment to green chemistry is evident in our continuous efforts to enhance the sustainability of our processes and products.

The GEM Mantra: Guiding Our Path to Sustainability

At Godrej Chemicals, our commitment to sustainability is encapsulated in our GEM Mantra, which stands for Green, Effective, and Multifunctional. This approach guides our product development and operational practices, ensuring we deliver high-quality, sustainable solutions.

Good and Green:

The "G" in GEM signifies our dedication to using oleochemical sources, ensuring our products are green and renewable. While we aim to maximize sustainability, we recognize the need for practicality and prefer to use the term "As Green as Possible." This reflects our commitment to balancing environmental considerations with the specific requirements of end-use applications.

Effective and Efficient:

Effectiveness is central to our sustainability efforts. By enhancing the delivery of active ingredients through additives like penetrants and solubilizers, we create formulations that are more efficient and economical. This means using less of the active ingredients, which reduces both costs and environmental impact by minimizing waste. Our focus on effective formulations supports our overarching goal of promoting sustainable practices.

Milder and Multifunctional:

Multifunctionality is a key tool in reducing the use of multiple chemicals. For instance, our bio-surfactant serves as an emulsifier, dispersant, antimicrobial agent, and cleaning agent, all in one. This reduces the need for additional chemicals and simplifies formulations. Additionally, many of our pre-mixes are designed to be "Cold Processable," allowing customers to prepare formulations without the need for heating. This conserves energy and improves batch cycle time, further contributing to our sustainability goals.

By incorporating the principles of Green, Effective, and Multifunctional, we produce products that we proudly refer to as GEMs. Each GEM contributes to sustainability and green chemistry principles, ensuring that our products and processes are environmentally friendly and efficient.

Our GEM Mantra is more than just a guideline; it is a commitment to producing innovative solutions that meet the highest standards of sustainability. Through this approach, we lead the way in the oleochemical industry, fostering a greener and more sustainable future. 

Bio-surfactants: The Future of Sustainable and High-Performance Oleochemicals

GCB-SL50, a sophorolipid developed by Godrej Chemicals, represents a significant advancement in sustainable chemistry. Produced through yeast fermentation using renewable non-edible vegetable oil feedstocks, GCB-SL50 combines green chemistry principles with a reduced carbon footprint.

Consumers are increasingly demanding natural, mild products made from renewable resources, and GCB-SL50 meets these needs with its non-toxic, biodegradable properties. This bio-surfactant is not only an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic surfactants but also promotes clean beauty throughout its lifecycle.

We have optimized the production of GCB-SL50 for commercial-scale manufacturing at a reasonable cost. The bio-surfactant offers several benefits: it produces less foam, making it ideal for cleansers and face washes; it is effective in anti-acne and anti-dandruff formulations; and it is naturally mild, making it suitable for baby and sensitive skin products. Additionally, GCB-SL50 excels in color dispersion for cosmetics like lipsticks and eyeliners. It also functions as a super emulsifier/dispersant, forming micro and nano emulsions for applications in personal care, home care, agro products, and more.

GCB-SL50 is poised to revolutionize the personal care industry with its sustainable and high-performance properties, meeting the growing demand for eco-friendly and effective products. 


Godrej Chemicals is advancing sustainability in the chemical industry through the innovative use of renewable oleochemicals. By integrating green chemistry principles, we prioritize eco-friendly processes, renewable feedstocks, and efficient resource utilization. Our GEM Mantra—Green, Effective, and Multifunctional—ensures the development of high-quality, sustainable solutions. The introduction of bio-surfactants exemplifies our commitment to innovation, offering a biodegradable and non-toxic alternative to synthetic surfactants for a variety of applications. This commitment to sustainable innovation drives us to create impactful, eco-friendly solutions that will shape the future of the chemical industry.


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