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EP supports ban of phosphates in consumer detergents

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The European Commission welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of the proposal to ban the use of phosphates and to limit the content of other phosphorous containing compounds in consumer laundry detergents as of 30 June 2013. When excessively discharged into water, phosphates cause algae to grow at the expense of other aquatic life.

Similar restrictions will apply to automatic dishwasher detergents for consumers as of 1 January 2017. Member States have the possibility to advance the date of applicability when certain conditions are fulfilled and the Commission has been tasked to review the situation before 31 December 2014. The Regulation aims to reduce the amount of phosphates found in waste water and to improve water quality. The Regulation does not affect detergents used by professionals as technically and economically feasible alternatives are not yet available throughout the EU.

A European problem: The forthcoming Regulation will harmonise measures across the EU as some Member States already have national restrictions in place with divergent limit values. Others rely on the voluntary action of detergent manufacturers. In some regions measures taken by individual countries are not sufficient to maintain water quality at acceptable levels. This is the case of the Danube River and the Baltic Sea.

The Commission will keep under review industry's progress through innovation in the development of technically and economically viable alternatives to phosphates in automatic dishwasher detergents to verify whether the deadline of 1 January 2017 can be met.

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