EU restricts use of phosphates in laundry and dishwasher detergents

10 February 2012 18:58  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The European Council on Friday adopted a regulation restricting the use of phosphates and other phosphorus compounds in consumer laundry and automatic dishwasher detergents, it said.

The limit value for consumer laundry detergents is set at “0.5 grams of phosphorus per washing process in a standard washing machine,” the council said. It will be applicable from 30 June 2013.

The limit value for consumer automatic dishwasher detergents is set at “0.3 grams of phosphorus in a standard dosage.”

This limit will be applicable from 1 January 2017 but is subject to confirmation through a “thorough assessment in the light of the most recent scientific data and taking into account available alternatives to the use of phosphates,” the council said.

The deferred application is intended to give producers - in particular small and medium-sized firms - enough time to reformulate their phosphate-based detergents with more ecological alternatives, the council said.

The regulation would improve the free movement of detergents in the internal market by harmonising existing different national rules on phosphate content, the council said. 

In the absence of EU legislation, some countries had taken national measures restricting the use of phosphates in detergents. Others had relied on voluntary action by industry to replace phosphates, it said.

The council added that imports of detergents from third countries into the EU were insignificant.

Phosphates and other phosphorous compounds are used in detergents to reduce water hardness and allow detergents to perform efficiently. However, they can damage the aquatic environment and disturb the ecological balance by increasing the proliferation of algae, a phenomenon called eutrophication.

In 2010, the European Commission had proposed a ban on the use of phosphates laundry detergents.

A EU regulation becomes immediately enforceable as law in all 27 EU member states. Unlike a directive, a regulation does not need to be transposed by the member states into their own law before becoming effective.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
+1 713 525 2653

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