Banning Inorganic Phosphates in DLCPs

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has been running a consultation for the regulation of inorganic phosphates in domestic laundry and cleaning products (DLCPs) since October 2009. The closing date of the consultation is 21st January 2010.

The consultation by DEFRA's Water Quality Division seeks to gather comments on the banning of inorganic phosphates for forthcoming regulation.

In their own words, DEFRA states that:

Many rivers do not meet EU standards for phosphorous content. Phosphorous reduces the oxygen content of water and harms aquatic life. A ban will help to reduce inorganic phosphate pollution and mean the water industry has to use less energy and chemicals to remove phosphorous from sewage effluent.

So, by banning inorganic phosphates:

  1. Britain's rivers will be cleaner as the water quality improves, meeting EU targets at the same time.
  2. Our aquatic life will no longer be harmed and
  3. By not adding additional chemicals to DCLPs the water companies will not need to purchase and use further chemicals in order to treat waste water to remove the chemicals that were added to it elsewhere in the first place!

Banning inorganic phosphates from DCLPs looks like a win-win-win situation from here. Not only do we clean up our rivers & environment and help our wildlife but we also make huge efficiencies by banning inorganic phosphates. With the water industry using "less energy and chemicals to remove phosphorous from sewage effluent" you would expect their costs to decrease; they would be more energy-efficient, they would have less overhead in having to not purchase and use additional chemicals and their treatment methodologies would be simplified with less processes.

In addition the water industry would be taking another step toward their corporate social responsibility which is good for their conscience and good for their public image. Efficient, clean and green; what could be better?

The only losers in this equation would be the manufacturers of inorganic phosphates but with demand for phosphates increasing, particularly due to the increase in world population and the demand for meat & crops, phosphates will continue to be used in artificial fertilisers. However, as phosphates are a finite resource prices have increased massively, so discontinuing their use is an economic benefit for manufacturers of DLCPs.

The alternatives are plant-based environmentally-friendly products such as the excellent Ecover range of cleaning products (such as their lemon & aloe vera washing-up liquid or non-biological washing powder) which have minimal impact upon the environment.

So, if you have any thoughts on banning inorganic phosphates from domestic laundry and cleaning products then head over to theNetregs "Detergent regulations consultation", read the details of the consultation and tell them your thoughts on the matter before the 21st January 2010.

The deadline of 1st January 2015 for the complete "ban" (with it being an offence to market DLCPs with more than 0.4% inorganic phosphates) has been set up to allow the industries concerned time to change their products and packaging, although with the speed at which they can launch products, this seems far too generous (five years to remove inorganic phosphates and "redesign" the packaging?!)

For further reading about see the Wikipedia entry for phosphates or the excellent SNB phosphate recovery website.