Eliminating phosphates from detergent for a clean environment

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Gift Mbaya, Business Lead and General Manager BASF TRO Ethiopia

BASF a German multinational chemical company operating in Ethiopia since the early 1960s, organized a workshop in collaboration with the Ethiopian Standard Agency (ESA). The goal is to replace phosphate with other ingredients to make soap and detergents. Sector professionals attending the daylong workshop including, ESA, academicians, environmental experts, regulatory bodies from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and experts from the Chemical Institute as well as managers from soap and detergent manufacturers, came together to talk about standardization and possible ways to replace phosphate as an ingredient in soap and detergent production in an effort to produce environmentally friendly products.
In Ethiopia, it is compulsory for manufacturers of soap and detergent to use less than 10pct phosphate.
Research indicates that the use of phosphates has come under increasing pressure from environmentalists and politicians because of their contribution to the eutrophication of water, which promotes excessive plant growth and decay, severely reducing water quality when it is discharged into the environment. This is now causing demands for a reduction or even banning the use of phosphates in detergents.
“BASF prioritises the need to contribute to the U.N. SDGs through products and solutions along the value chain to create a sustainable future. This is embedded in our corporate strategy as a company,” said Gift Mbaya Business Lead and General Manager at BASF TRO, Ethiopia.
Eutrophication is caused by either the addition of fertilizers to a water source (typically the run-off from agriculture), or from the mass use of phosphates from detergents and cleaning products that are improperly disposed off.
European countries banned the use of phosphates in dishwashing detergents because of the chemical compounds that pollute lakes and streams. They create algae bloom and starve fish of oxygen.
While some regions have installed reduction agreements to avoid the use of phosphates in cleaning products, a variety of products can be used in addition to BASF solutions.
Even in Africa, countries are considering the ban on the use of phosphates in detergents. Countries like Tanzania already banned it some years ago.
BASF, headquartered in Ludwigshafen Germany, runs five major business divisions, chemicals, performance products, functional materials & solutions, agricultural solutions, and oil & gas. Across these segments, the multinational was able to sell at a value of EUR 62.7 billion in 2018. Present in more than 80 countries with its subsidiaries and joint ventures, it has 390 production sites in Europe, Asia, Australia, the US, and Africa.
“Business success tomorrow means creating value for the environment, society and for business. We do this in collaboration with our customers by developing highly innovative products and solutions aligned to consumer needs. This in turn enables our customers to grow and effectively contribute to the development of the country,” Mbaya adds.
BASF spends more than two million euro for research and development with around 11,000 employees worldwide. Effective and efficient research is a key cornerstone for the company’s development.