Building Biology Resource Centre
Stains, grime, dirt and dust are a part of life we can't avoid. Many cleaners and detergents use harsh industrial strength chemicals and enzymes which not only leave behind toxic residues, but may also damage the clothes and dishes as they clean. There is an alternative which performs better than most leading brand detergents and is far safer for the environment as well.
Ecolibria stock a range of cleaning products that are radically different to both traditional and “green” or eco products. Using new technology, the Biometics Safe & Clean range offers powerful effective laundry and dishwashing products without the environmental and personal hazards associated with traditional brands.
The major difference between conventional and environmentally friendly powders lies in the ingredient known as the builder. The most common builder is sodium tripolyphospate. However, as the demand for "green‟ laundry powders grew, some manufacturers turned to the aluminium-based mineral called zeolite A. While zeolites soften water, they are far less effective than phosphates.
The traditional production of phosphate-free detergents necessitates the inclusion of a number of complex, new chemicals and a complete restructuring of the detergent's formula. According to Bryn Jones, former director of Greenpeace, consumers are doing the environment no favours by using zeolite-based washing powders. Jones investigated the environmental effects of every stage of the manufacture and use of each type of powder and concluded that zeolite-based powders do just as much damage to the environment as phosphate-based products (Coghlan, 1994).
It takes more of the zeolite-based products to do the same job as the phosphate powders and the zeolite powders require the addition of complex chemicals such as polycarboxylic acid to even match the performance of conventional powders. The Biometics Safe & Clean range of laundry and dishwashing powders avoids phosphates and zeolites by using layered disilicates which are manufactured by reacting sand with sodium carbonate. That's right, sand. No open cut mining to extract the raw materials, no complex chemical reactions or additional chemicals to make the final product.
What about the performance?
Layered disilicates easily out-perform phosphates and zeolites in all areas and revert back to silicon (sand) in the environment. Furthermore, unlike zeolites, they leave no problem sludge which can damage plumbing and your valuable white goods and unlike phosphates, they do not cause eutrophication problems in lakes and rivers. When used in dishwashing powder, layered disilicates protect glassware from clouding and pitting and dissolve completely in cool water - something tablets often fail to do.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS OF CHEMICALS USED IN ZEOLITE (ECO) DETERGENTS
The production of zeolite-based ECO powders demands the addition of complex new chemicals, each of which has disadvantages :
- Increases suspended solids
- May cause fouling of pipework
- Significantly increases sludge volumes in sewage treatment plants
- Sludge disposal is difficult due to a low calorific (incineration) and fertilizer value
- Very poor biodegradability
- Can prove difficult to remove in sewage works
- May accumulate in sludge
- Very poor biodegradability
Can mobilize heavy metals
Accumulate in aquatic environments
- Health and environmental risk difficult to evaluate
- is poorly biodegradable
- NTA biodegrades poorly under some conditions
- NTA banned or limited in several countries, including Switzerland
- Neither is authorized in detergents eligible for the European Union Ecolabel
- Increases biological oxygen demand in water and increases load on sewage works and on the environment.
Traditional laundry powders utilize sodium hypochlorite, a strong bleaching agent with a cumulative damaging effect on organic substances such as cotton. As it is non-volatile, residue accumulates and slowly degrades organic fibers in the presence of humidity (Wikipedia, 200?).
Furthermore, when used in hot water, the hypochlorite generates the environmentally unfriendly chemical, chlorate. The Biometics range of laundry powders takes a more friendly approach with it's oxidizing agent by using sodium percarbonate, an environmentally friendly, white crystalline water soluble chemical compound. When dissolved in water, it releases hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. Hydrogen peroxide is regarded as safe by the US food and drug administration and can also be used as a skin antiseptic. The strong antiseptic properties give Biometics laundry products their anti-microbial ability. Sodium carbonate is used as a water softener in laundry powder and is extracted from the ash of many plants. It is often used in the baking of German pretzels and has a cooling alkaline taste. It is also the major constituent of glass. More importantly, however, the sodium carbonate in Biometics laundry powder also acts as a descaler, preventing the buildup of sludge in plumbing associated with many traditional and alternative laundry products.
Laundry and cleaning products are passionately Australian made from local and imported ingredients to ensure you get only the very best. The advanced technology in materials, formulations and manufacturing techniques are second to none. This range leads the way in environmental responsibility and performance.
- Coghlan, A. (1994). Would you swap a packet of your old powder…. New Scientist. (Online). Available: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14119111.600. Issue.1911. 5th February 1994.
- Wikipedia. (2008). Sodium hypochlorite. (Online). Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_hypochlorite#Bleaching