UK ban on phosphates

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is considering the ban of inorganic phosphates in domestic laundry cleaning products (DLCPs) and is soliciting comments about it since October 22 up until January 21, 2010.

According to DEFRA, a regulatory ban is needed to reduce phosphorus pollution in the UK’s water system as well as reduce the energy and chemicals used by the water industry to remove phosphorus from sewage effluent. Domestic laundry cleaning products are said to contribute 3-4% of phosphorus pollution load to the freshwater environment in the UK and Wales.

The plan is to ban on sales of all DLCPs containing more than 0.4% phosphorus by 2015. Estimated costs of the ban, which will affect manufacturers and their customers who will bear the costs of the change, are around £5-8 million/year ($8-13m/year) within 15-year period and a one time cost of £10-15 million for the transition.

Water companies, however, will be able to save a total cost (in 15-year time frame) of around £59-123 million. There is of course the environmental benefits of not having phosphorus in the water system, according to DEFRA.

The group estimates 41,600 tonnes of phosphorus is discharged to England, Wales and Scotland’s water environment each year. DEFRA estimates phosphates from household products account for 61% of the phosphorus discharged; 28% from agriculture; 5% from industry and 6% from other sources.

For phosphate updates in the US, check out my posts from the AOCS conference in May.

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