Procter & Gamble announced today that it will eliminate phosphates from all of its Fairy dishwasher tablets by 2017. This change will apply to retail brands globally, going beyond current legislation*, and represents the removal of 14,000 tons annually — enough phosphates to cover 270,000 soccer pitches**. Additionally, P&G will also remove phosphates from all of its professional dishwasher tablets globally, an area currently unregulated.
Phosphates, which are used to soften hard water, can deplete oxygen levels, and cause algae blooms and even fish deaths when they make it into public water supplies. P&G already eliminated phosphates from its laundry detergents sold in the US in the early ‘90s as part of a voluntary commitment, and announced in 2014 that it would follow suit with the rest of its detergents globally by the end of 2015.
“We’ve invested in breakthrough innovation to ensure we are able to improve Fairy’s ability to cut through tough food the first time while removing phosphates from our formula,” said Global Home Care President George Tsourapas. “For us, actions speak louder than words in the area of sustainability. This is why we have gone beyond regulation in our removal of phosphates, and that innovative action is just the start. Our consumers can join us on the journey; by packing more cleaning power into Fairy’s dishwasher tablets there is no need to pre-rinse. I’m proud we have been able to make it easier for everyone to conserve precious resources without compromising on Fairy’s cleaning ability.”
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P&G has changed a number of cleaning product formulas in recent years in an effort to improve their environmental performance: In 2014, the company announced a collaboration with DuPont to turn agricultural waste into cellulosic ethanol for North American Tide® laundry detergent, making Tide Cold Water the first brand in the world to blend cellulosic ethanol in a scalable and commercial way. Ethanol, which allows for stability of the detergent formula and better washing performance, was long a key ingredient in the Tide® formulation; the companies said the substitution of corn-based ethanol with cellulosic is a more sustainable choice as it utilizes a waste stream and the process to produce it creates zero net carbon emissions.
* European Commission legislation regulates that by 1 January 2017, dishwasher soaps will be limited to a phosphorus content of 0.3 grams per dose. Although some national governments have regulated to remove phosphates already, most markets around the world remain unregulated when it comes to phosphates in dishwasher tablets.
** 14,000 tons of phosphate is the same as the amount of phosphate an EU farmer would use to cover an area the size of 270,000 soccer pitches.
*** Fairy handwashing liquid saves almost 24,000 tons of packaging per year in the top 10 sales markets (compared with if only competitors were used).