Do Something about... phosphates in laundry detergents
See how Do Something brought about a phase-out ban on phosphates in Australia
Australians love to wash clothes - we carry out 1.9 billion
laundry washes every year! When Do Something found out that 308
million Americans are only able to buy phosphate-free laundry
detergents, we asked the question "why can't 22 million Australians
do the same?"
As a result of the impact that laundry detergent phosphates had on
waterways, America banned phosphates in the mid-nineties. Do
Something wanted to achieve a similar result here in Australia - to
that end we launched our 'National Phosphate Ban' campaign in
Our campaign position was that Australian supermarkets were
selling phosphate-based laundry detergents that would not be
allowed in American supermarkets. We argued that if the Americans
wouldn't sell them, then we shouldn't either.
Our discussions with ALDI about the issue led to the campaign's
first major breakthrough. On April 3rd 2011, they kindly announced
that they were phasing out phosphates in laundry detergents in over
250 ALDI stores by the end of 2013. Our phosphate fact sheet that
was launched at this time can be downloaded here.
Following the announcement by ALDI, we began to liaise with
Coles and Woolworths, which lead to our second major breakthrough.
Coles joined with us to announce that they would ban phosphates
from all home brand laundry detergents in 2012. Woolworths also
wrote to us to confirm that would remove phosphates from all
private label laundry products by the end of 2011.
To coincide with our Coles and Woolworths announcement, Do
Something joined forces with Unilever to announce that OMO -
Australia's biggest selling laundry detergent - had gone
phosphate-free. All three Unilever brands - OMO, Surf and Drive -
are now phosphate-free and are currently rolling out in
supermarkets with the 'NP' sign on-pack. Sebastian Lazell, the
Chairman of Unilever, joined Do Something's Jon Dee in undertaking
media interviews for the announcement.
The Unilever approach brought about a major environmental benefit.
As Do Something Founder Jon Dee said at the time, "When Unilever
removed phosphate from OMO, the product reduced its greenhouse
emissions footprint by approximately 30%. That's a major
result and it was achieved without increasing the price or
impacting the quality of the wash."
As Sebastian Lazell, the Chairman of Unilever stated, "Our global
life cycle research revealed that phosphate has a higher greenhouse
gas impact than other ingredients, so we've replaced it with lower
greenhouse gas alternatives. For the OMO range this equates to an
approximate 30% reduction in the greenhouse gas footprint of the
product, and by simply using new OMO, an Australian household can
save 20 kg of CO2 a year."
According to Unilever's figures, if all Australian households
switched to OMO, it would save 85,000 tonnes of CO2 in total -
that's the equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road.
As of June 2011, all major companies in the Australian detergent
industry have now implemented or agreed to phase out phosphates in
household laundry detergents.
The final companies to commit to the phase-out included PZ Cussons
Australia who announced a phase-out date for Radiant Power at the
end of 2012. This was followed by an announcement from
Colgate-Palmolive who will reformulate their Cold Power and Dynamo
powder detergents by the end of 2013 and their liquid detergents by
the first half of 2014.
CAMPAIGN MEDIA RELEASES
DO SOMETHING GETS UP VOLUNTARY BAN (12 June
CUSSONS JOINS BAN (12 June 2011)
COLES, WOOLWORTHS AND UNILEVER BAN (17 April 2011)
COLES ANNOUNCEMENT (17 April 2011)
MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN CAMPAIGN (4 April
ALDI ANNOUNCEMENT (3 April 2011)
PHOSPHATE FACT SHEET (3 April 2011)
13 June 2011 - Long-running soapie
Sydney Morning Herald
Mr Dee, founder of Do Something, said: "This means that I now have
ever detergent brand over the line for Do Something's national
12 June 2011 - Australian laundry
detergents to be phosphate-free by 2014
Australian laundry detergents will be phosphate-free by 2014,
after two final companies agreed to phase out the envrionmentlly
damagaing element from their products.
12 June 2011 - Detergents to dump phosphates
The environmental campaigner Jon Dee has won his battle to rid
laundry products of environmentally damaging phosphates, with the
last manufacturers agreeing to phase them out.
6 May 2011 - Consumers go green for
Consumers are voting with their wallets and opting for
eco-friendly laundry products, consumer research shows. The latest
Canstar Blue independent consumer survey of 2500 Australian
consumers, released today, revealed that Aldi, which recently
committed to banning phosphate detergents, has the most satisfied
laundry powder customers.
19 April 2011 -Phasing out phosphates
The TODAY Show
Jon Dee appears on TODAY to explain why we should be concerned,
and what we're doing about
18 April 2011 - A phosphate-free future
Coles and Woolworths have announced that they will phase-out
laundry phosphates, and Unilever has just released a phosphate-free
17 April 2011 - Phosphates are all washed
The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age
In the latest round of supermarket "me-too-ism", Coles and
Woolworths have backed a plan to rid shelves of environmentally
17 April 2011 - Laundry powders to go
Australia has moved closer to a national phase-out of
phosphates in laundry detergents, with big brand laundry products
moving to get rid of the chemical.
3 April 2011 - Scrub-up gives Aldi
The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age
Budget supermarket chain Aldi is taking a green lead in
phasing out phosphates from laundry detergents by
3 April 2011 - ALDI to ban phosphate
Environmental group, Do Something, described the an as a challenge
to other major supermarket chains.
3 February 2011 - Clean
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the issue of blue-green
algae in waterways was a hot environmental topic. Phosphate was
identitifed as a contributor to the problem.
7 November 2010 - Call to clean up our
The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age
Australian supermarkets are selling laundry detergents
containing phosphates that are being phased out overseas because of
their disastrous effects on waterways.