Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


The European Commission implemented this study to address the current use of phosphates in detergents throughout the European Union and recommend appropriate measures to improve the current situation. The study covers the fifteen Member States of the EU and the three accession countries Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. It was carried out on behalf of DG Environment by WRc Swindon (UK) under contract no 12565-0. The WRc reference number of the report is: UC 4011.

The aim of the study was to investigate the costs and benefits of substituting phosphorus in detergents with other appropriate builders and to provide recommendations on the most appropriate method of reducing phosphorus concentrations in surface waters, through either improving wastewater treatment, banning the use of phosphates as detergent builders, or a combination of the two approaches.

The greatest improvements in lakes and rivers were observed where a combination of reduced detergent phosphorus and improved wastewater treatment were implemented, thereby achieving the required 70-90% reduction in external load. Based on the results of life cycle analysis, Zeolite A was found to be a suitable alternative to STPP for use as a detergent builder.

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