Why be concerned?

Supplier progress

Potential impacts

Functional groups

Substance list

Legislation / REACH


Related Links

Wash with care

Environmental assessment of laundry detergents

Although the responsibility for the environmental effects of laundry detergents rests with to the detergent suppliers, there are a number of reasons for textile service companies to be concerned as well:


Relevant amounts

It is estimated that E.T.S.A. members use approximately 60,000 tons of laundry chemicals per year.

This amount constitutes only a minor percentage of the detergents consumed in Europe. The International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE) estimate a total usage of at around 3.8 million tons per year!

Professional laundries use detergents much more efficiently - 80-90% less detergents per kg than domestic laundry - due to better sorting of textiles, better equipment and better systems to optimise the dosage.

A recent Life Cycle Assessment study shows that from a life cycle perspective ,industrial laundering is best for the environment. More information.

Thus for professional laundries it is important that the selection and handling of the chemicals is carried out responsibly and safely in relation to both people and environment. The main focus of this website is the environment.

Contamination in the wastewater

Sooner or later the laundry detergents will end up in the wastewater and hence it is important to ensure that the chemicals can be treated by the wastewater treatment plants. This way we can provide assurance that textile service companies will not bear the responsibility for potential negative effects of laundry detergents in the aquatic environment.

For companies, this also means less problems with obtaining discharge permits and being granted reasonable discharge fees for their wastewater.

Public concern

Due to the public debate on household detergents, customers are also sometimes concerned with the environmental impacts of the laundry chemicals used by their supplier of textile service. Hence it is important for textile service companies to be prepared for such debates.

Again, these concerns are first of all the responsibility of the detergent supplier but it is also realised that also textile service companies have a responsibility in their selection of suppliers and in selection of the individual chemical products.

Why be concerned for with environmental effects

of the laundry detergent ingredients?

Recent improvements

Significant improvements have been achieved over the last 10-20 years on the environmental impacts of the detergents.

For example:

 NPEO/APEO and EDTA have been replaced with less hazardous alternatives.

 Per-oxy-acetic acid has been introduced to replace chlorine.

 Phosphate free alternatives have been developed.

Further detailed reading on these improvements.