The Commission had proposed to restrict the use of phosphates and other phosphorus compounds in household laundry detergents only. That decision was uncontroversial – from the point of view not only of the European Parliament, but also the Council and Commission.
However, EP ALDE Rapporteur Bill Newton Dunn (Lib Dem,UK) proposed to go further, to extend the limitation to detergents for household automatic dishwashers.
He underlines: “The Commission was not ambitious enough in its proposals. Phosphorus leaked into European lakes streams and rivers can lead to eutrophication – the overgrowth of algae which can starve fish and other plant life of oxygen. This is particularly a problem in the many EU member states covering the Baltic and Danube regions, so it makes sense to take EU-level action to tackle its causes.
“It is true that, compared to the market in laundry detergent, less progress has been made so far on formulating household dishwasher detergents that are both low- phosphorus and at the same time high-performance. It is also true that we need to ensure small and medium sized enterprises have time to adapt to these requirements without excess burden.
“Nonetheless, phosphate-free formulas are available on the market already, and manufacturers are innovating all the time. It is therefore reasonable to expect that in the next four years until my proposed ban comes into effect, the vast majority, if not all, will have been able to make the switch and to offer products that meet the expectations of consumers in terms of cleaning performance.
“So I am delighted that the Parliament’s Environment Committee today backed this approach. The Commission’s proposal for only a report would have delayed progress, whereas setting a date for a ban will require manufacturers to step up their efforts to produce less polluting formulations. I look forward to taking this forward in negotiations with the Council.”