Clean water campaigners from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) took their giant soapbox to the Hayle Co-operative supermarket today to launch SAS’s new Go Phosphate Free campaign ahead of World Water Day (on the 22nd of March). The SAS campaigners gave away over 600 samples of phosphate free Ecover washing powders to shoppers as a positive example of a low impact alternative.
Phosphates in washing powders can often pass through the sewage treatment works untouched. Once these phosphates enter our rivers and seas, they can cause eutrophication, or over-enrichment. Over-enrichment of our rivers and seas can result in harmful algal blooms. Excessive phosphates can result in an inability to support life, effectively turning our rivers, seas and our beloved surf spots into dead-zones.
SAS are lobbying the Government for a ban on laundry based phosphate detergents. This will help the UK meet targets set by the EU Water Framework Directive whilst delivering cost savings for water companies and hopefully taking the pressure off bill payers. It’s estimated a ban would cost the detergent industry £4 million, a tiny percentage of their £500-£600 million annual profits. Water companies have already invested £950 million on phosphate removal since the mid 90s and will require a further £500 million to protect waters identified as “sensitive" to eutrophication under the EU Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive.
The majority of detergent manufacturers already produce phosphate free washing powders based on zeolites. These low impact alternatives are comparable in price and performance with the polluting phosphate products. The UK is one of the heaviest users of phosphate washing powders amongst EU countries. In fact, the UK is in the minority among western EU nations not having restrictions on phosphate washing powders.
SAS Campaign Manager, Andy Cummins says: “Today’s SAS’s action was aimed at surfers, waveriders and consumers, so whilst SAS lobby the Government, we can all make small changes in our everyday lives to combat this problem. Choosing to go phosphate free with your washing powder will help protect the environment we are love so much, our beautiful rivers, seas and of course our beloved surf spots!"
Paul Westaway, manager of Hayle Co-operative food store said: "SAS should be congratulated for highlighting the link between our everyday actions and the impact they have on the environment, and we are glad The Co-operative could help reinforce this message."