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16 August 2022

From wool to fizz

Posted in Industry News

Discover the history behind the company

A long time ago

In 1856, Bradford (a big industrial city in the north of England) was the ‘wool capital of the world’. More wool passed through Bradford’s mills each year than anywhere else on earth: traded, treated, spun, woven and sold. It was also here that the Stephenson family spotted an opportunity and began manufacturing soaps for processing that wool. They could never have imagined that, 166 years later, their business would still be going strong and their products would be traded in over 60 countries.


Today, that business is hugely successful. Now called the Stephenson Group, just 12km from its original home in Bradford, it makes around 250 unique formulations for use in skincare, cosmetics and haircare. One of its divisions, Stephenson Personal Care, is one of the world’s leading speciality soap-related manufacturers. All kinds of businesses come to Stephenson for their vital ingredients, from consumer-goods giant Procter & Gamble to small independent soap-makers.

Enter the fizzicists…

Step back a moment to 2005, when a team of Stephenson scientists received a request from an unusual source: a major food and drink manufacturer. Could they help fix a foaming problem that had arisen with the production of a carbonated product? So the team turned to polysorbates – ingredients they already knew well as emulsifiers for cosmetics and beauty products. They worked their magic, and the foaming problem was solved. But along the way, they spotted something that seemed even more important: polysorbate might also be used to prolong the fizz in carbonated soft drinks.

Spinning out

The team worked hard on developing and testing their idea, well aware of the huge global potential for it. So, in 2019 they spun out (nothing to do with wool, this time) and became an independent business. They called it CO2Sustain. Their product was perfected and validated, and their intellectual property verified, by the University of Surface Science in Stockholm.

International reach

CO2Sustain now works in over 50 countries, keeping the fizz in some of the world’s favourite carbonated soft drinks. Among their customers are globally recognised brand names who rely on CO2Sustain’s patented solution to continue delighting consumers while building market share in a fiercely competitive global market.

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