EC proposes ban on the use of phosphates in laundry detergents

04 November 2010 14:26  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The European Commission has proposed to ban the use of phosphates and to limit the content of other phosphorous containing compounds in laundry detergents from 2013, the executive body said on Thursday.

"The Commission’s proposal to ban phosphates in laundry detergents will ensure that European citizens benefit from an increased water quality of their lakes, rivers and marine waters while keeping European companies at the forefront of this sector,” said European Commission vice president Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship.

“The Commission will keep under review industry's progress in the development of technically and economically viable alternatives for automatic dishwasher detergents through innovation,” he added.

The Commission said the regulation proposed a phosphorous content limit of 0.5 % of the total weight of the product in all laundry detergents on the EU market.

This would apply as of 1 January 2013, to allow detergent manufacturers to minimise the costs of modifying the composition of laundry detergents in a normal product life cycle.

Phosphates are primarily used in detergents to ensure efficient cleaning in hard water.

When excessively discharged into water, phosphates, like nitrates, can raise the amount of nutrients to an unsustainable level, eventually causing algae to grow at the expense of other aquatic life.

The main sources of discharge of phosphates into surface waters are agriculture and sewage with detergents coming in third position, according to the Commission.

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By: Hilde Ovrebekk
+44 20 8652 3214

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