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European Ban on Phosphorus in Household Detergents
The European Parliament Environment Committee held its first exchange of views on the possibility of setting a limit on the permitted content of phosphorus in household detergents.

Phosphorus leaked into European lakes, streams and rivers leading to eutrophication - the overgrowth of algae which can starve fish and other plant life of oxygen. Phosphorus gets into groundwater mainly from fertilizers or animal and human waste, which is not addressed in the current proposal, but phosphorus does make up 25% of current domestic wastewater. The phosphorus used in household detergents, and fed directly into water supplies, is nevertheless one source of eutrophication that is relatively easy and inexpensive to address in household cleaning detergents as effective substitutes for cleaning and softening water already exist on the market.

EP Rapporteur Bill Newton Dunn (Lib Dem, UK) proposes to go further and include automatic dishwasher detergents in the ban as well:

"The Commission proposal is welcome but not ambitious enough. A large and ever-increasing proportion of household laundry detergents are already phosphate-free thanks to the initiative of the industry itself. Therefore, it makes sense not only from an environmental, but also from a market harmonisation perspective, to restrict phosphorus content at the EU level."
"Although less progress has been made so far in formulating reliable low-phosphorus automatic dishwashing detergents, technologies are available, and manufacturers are innovating all the time. Indeed, three EU member states already have set limits on phosphorus content in dishwasher detergents, as well as Norway, and 17 US states."

Learn how to make your own phosphate-free dishwashing soap.


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