THE DRP, DETERGENTS AND PHOSPHATES
Many residents of cities in the central and lower Danube River Basin use cleaning detergents that are heavy with phosphates for their clothes. As a result, detergents with phosphates have become one of three major sources of nutrient pollution in the Danube Basin and eutrophication in the Black Sea. The other two major sources are agricultural activities and human waste.
At the same time, alternatives to phosphates in detergents exist and are already widely used by many consumers, companies and countries in the Danube Basin and beyond.
Many would like detergent producers and distributors, as well as consumers, in the Danube Basin to switch to phosphate-free alternatives. In some Danube countries such as Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, complete or near complete switches have already been made. In other Danube countries, groups have tried to negotiate with detergent producers to voluntarily start phasing out the use of phosphates in detergents, but industry has generally been against the idea.
The UNDP/GEF Danube Regional Project (DRP) commissioned a project, divided into three tasks, to help reduce phosphorus in detergents. The first task reviewed existing legislation, policies and voluntary commitments on the reduction of phosphorus in laundry detergents across the EU and Danube Basin. In discussion with the detergent industry, the second compiled and evaluated data on phosphorus-containing detergents and associated production structures. The third developed options for a voluntary agreement between the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) signatory countries and the detergent industry.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM THE DRP PRODUCTS?
- Water and river basin/district managers
- National government representatives responsible for developing and implementing policies and legislation related to reducing water pollution
- Municipal decision-makers
- Environmental NGOs concerned about water pollution
- Producers and distributors of laundry detergents
WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTS AND ACTIVITIES?
The project's final report found that there is ample scope for contributing to a successful resolution of the problem of eutrophication by replacing phosphate detergents with phosphate-free detergents, thereby reducing the total phosphate burden. The main adverse effect of abandoning the use of phosphates in detergents is expected to be on the phosphate industry, not on the detergent industry. Nonetheless, the study found that legislation to ban or reduce phosphates in detergents would be far more effective in dealing with the problem than voluntary agreements.
2. SUPPORT FOR NGOS
Financial support was provided to a number of NGOs working to reduce detergent phosphates from entering Danube Basin water through the UNDP/GEF DRP Small Grants Programme. One example was that of an NGO in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, raising awareness among Sarajevo consumers about the impacts of phosphates and the opportunities to use detergents with environmentally-friendly alternatives. (See story at: www.undp-drp.org/drp/themes_detergent-phosphates_NGO-grants)
3. MEDIA OUTREACH - BACKGROUND STORY
'Clean clothing, dirty river' tells the story about how detergent phosphates are polluting Danube Basin and Black Sea waters, how viable alternatives exist and how the detergent industry is generally against phasing out the use of phosphates. It also presents how the most effective measure toward a detergent phosphate phase-out would be EU legislation rather than voluntary agreements with industry. (See story at: www.undp-drp.org/drp/themes_detergent-phosphates_background-story)
A final detergents-related workshop will be held in Bucharest, Romania on 25 January 2007.
General information: /drp/themes_detergent-phosphates.html
Read about the project work :
'RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE REDUCTION OF PHOSPHORUS IN DETERGENTS'.