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Taking steps towards a phosphate-free future – Comparing the environmental impacts of alternative builder systems with enzymes


*Corresponding author
1. Senior Life Cycle Economist
2. Novozymes A/S Krogshoejvej 36 Bagsvaerd, 2880, Denmark

As consumer demand for detergent performance grows, so do expectations for low environmental impact detergent options. At the same time, environmental regulations are becoming more stringent in many countries, making it necessary for formulators to produce detergents that reduce potential negative impacts on wastewater and water ways, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sodium Tripolyphosphate (STPP) is a traditional multipurpose ingredient in powder detergents. Because it contains phosphate, STPP can cause eutrophication and algae bloom if wastewater from washing machines merges into water bodies without the right treatment. If alternative detergent ingredients can be found to reduce the amount of STPP, aquatic environments should benefit. However, in order to be accepted by consumers, these alternatives need to have similar or improved wash performance, and not impose increased costs on detergents.
Enzymes are a viable solution to this puzzle. New enzyme solutions have already been developed that open the door to cost-neutral opportunities for formulators to replace or supplement traditional chemicals with small amounts of enzymes. Enzymes are used for deep cleani ...