How can detergent manufacturers ensure that they are providing the best products to consumers and at the same time do their part for the environment? The answer lies in continuously developing new and improved cleaning technologies. P&G have tried over the last decades to further develop laundry detergents that perform better as well as having a reduced impact on the environment. P&G launched the first compact detergents in the early nineties. Since then, more compacted detergents have been introduced in many regions across multiple forms such as concentrated powder and liquid detergents, powder tablets (drytabs) as well as gel and liquid tablets (liquitabs).
We can explore the effects that these “new” detergents have on the environment by asking two questions.
- Did the introduction of compact (1992) and super compact detergents (1998) mean that the detergent ingredients in the “newer” more innovative products reduce environmental impact when compared to regular “big-box” powders (1988) ?
- After washing, all the ingredients that make up the product are released into public sewage system, and after treatment in wastewater treatment plants, into the environment. If we consider the environmental risk associated with each ingredient, is the entire product still safer for the environment?”
To answer these questions and to show the change in the environmental profiles of detergents from 1988 to 1998, P&G performed an environmental risk assessment on three of their detergents. These were a traditional (‘big box’), a compact and a super compact powder: Ariel Regular (1988), Ariel Ultra (1992) and Ariel Futur (1998).