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Laundry and dishwasher detergents to become phosphate free


14 Dec 2011


Climate & Environment

The European Parliament today gave final approval to a proposed regulation harmonising EU restrictions on the use of phosphorus in consumer laundry and dishwasher detergents. The regulation aims to reduce the level of phosphorus in EU waste water in order to prevent eutrophication - the overgrowth of algae in streams and lakes which can starve fish and plant life of oxygen. This is particularly a problem  in sensitive areas like the Baltic Sea and Danube region.

The agreement approved today was reached last month in negotiations with the Council, and contains the key Parliament demand to extend the restriction beyond consumer laundry detergents to automatic dishwasher detergents, which are estimated to contribute just as much to polluting sewage systems.

Bill Newton Dunn (Lib Dem, UK), the author of Parliament's report, fought hard to extend the scope:

"By strictly limiting phosphorus in both consumer laundry and dishwasher detergents we will be helping protect the environment and reducing the costs of waste water treatment."

"The fears of some manufacturers that more innovation and development was needed before a phosphate-free market in dishwasher detergents could be achieved have been addressed, by delaying until 2017 this part of the restriction subject to further investigation by the Commission."

"The engagement of the Polish Presidency on this piece of legislation has been excellent and, along with broad support in Parliament, has aided bringing this regulation to a swift and successful conclusion."

Notes to editors:

The final text prohibits the placing on the market as from 30 June 2013 of any consumer laundry detergent if the total phosphorus content is equal to or greater than 0.5 grams (per standard dosage).  The same applies from 1 January 2017 to any consumer automatic dishwasher detergent if the total phosphorus content is equal to or greater than 0.3 grams (per standard dosage).

For more information, please contact:

Corlett Neil - Tel:+32 2 284 20 77 Mob:+32 478 78 22 84

Halko Norbert - Tel:+32 2 284 26 02 Mob:+32 484 75 17 22



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