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Today’s Detergents Use Less Water

November 14, 2005

l Just 3% of the earth’s water is freshwater, and two-thirds of it is locked in the polar ice caps. Obviously, potable water is a precious resource. In recognition of this, the United Nations declared 2003 the international year of freshwater to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable water supplies and conservative use.
Laundry accounts for about 12% of private water consumption in Europe. BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany, has worked to add more effective ingredients to detergents such as low-foaming surfactants and highly water-soluble softeners, rather than larger quantities of existing raw materials. These formulations are challenging, according to executives. “European laundry detergents can contain up to 30 different active ingredients,” said Dr. Volker Schwendemann, head of global detergent raw materials development, BASF performance chemicals. “Detergents are veritable high-tech products.”
New BASF detergent innovations also include anti-soil and scale redeposition agents and dye-transfer inhibitors. Executives said now only 70g of water is required to wash a normal load of laundry in Europe, compared to 300g 25 years ago.

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