P&G is washing phosphates out of Tide

A host of leading laundry detergent brands, including Ariel, Tide and Ace, will have phosphates eliminated within two years, Procter & Gamble announced Monday.

The consumer goods giant said that all of its laundry detergents no longer would feature the material, after the company successfully developed a new formula that it maintains will deliver an improved cleaning performance without reliance on phosphates.

Phosphates long have featured in laundry detergents, but the chemical widely has been blamed for polluting freshwater ways, where an excess of phosphates can lead to algal blooms and oxygen deficits that harm biodiversity. There are also concerns that with demand for phosphate-based fertilizers continuing to climb globally, the global economy could face a phosphate supply crunch in the coming years.

P&G provided few details on how it had managed to develop a new generation of detergents that could work effectively without phosphorus, but insisted that the new pledge was part of a long-running strategy. "P&G has been gradually reducing the consumption of phosphates since 2005," said Gianni Ciserani, group president of global fabric and home care. "By the time the above laundry reformulations are fully implemented, P&G will have eliminated close to half a million metric tons per year compared to its peak consumption during calendar year 2005."

He added that the commitment was "just the start of a series of solutions" designed to "make it easier for people to make a small change that can have a positive impact on our world." "We believe that action speaks louder than words in the area of sustainability," he said. "Through hard work and commitment, we are continuously innovating to make it easier to care for the world on wash day."

The pledge is the latest in a string of commitments from leading consumer brands to reduce their reliance on potentially harmful chemicals, as demand for cleaner products increases and chemicals regulations tighten. It also comes in the same month that Greenpeace launched a major new campaign highlighting how children's clothing manufacturers were continuing to use potentially hazardous chemicals in their products.

This story originally appeared at BusinessGreen.com. Detergent photo by jcjgphotography via Shutterstock.