Ecover Products For Sewage Treatment Plants
Why Bio-Degradability Is Important
Biological degradability of a substance is of paramount importance determining the potential pollution risks .
They can also affect the performance of biological treatment plants used for treatment of industrial and domestic wastewater.
If substances degrade easily in wastewater treatment plants, they will rarely have serious environmental effects, although, sometimes, the resulting products of the degradation might have environmental effects different from the original substance.
Substances which degrade only slowly, can present a risk as they tend to accumulate in the environment over time. The consequences of this build up of pollutants is, in some cases, still unknown. With this in mind, it can be taken as a general recommendation to avoid use of organic synthesised substances that are only slowly bio-degradable.
For surfactants, the primary degradation is very important.
Surfactants are substances that make water 'Wetter' by breaking down the surface tension of water molecules. They can cause injury to plants and small organisms in the soil and watercourses, if they are not broken down first, as they affect the surface of the living roots and cells. Just as importantly, oils, grease and other particles in wastewater react with surfactants, and enzymes while they are traveling through sewage pipes from the source to the sewage treatment plant and form sludge.
These sludge materials can gather and coat the insides of the pipes, causing blockages, but can also clog the media in the sewage treatment plant.
Primary degradation means that the substance loses its original structure and properties e.g. its surface activity. This means that the potentially negative effects in the treatment plants and in the water and soil environment are reduced significantly.
In a wider environmental perspective the complete degradation naturally is of importance.
How Ecover Products Are Different
If you look at the label of any dishwasher tablet or any laundry powder, you will find non degradable ingredients which are persistent and do not break down or become digested by the bacteria in a septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
These are, typically, polycarboxylates, phosphonates and or optical brighteners.
Here is the link to the DID list european ecolabel for persistant chemicals and check for yourself. These ingredients are publicly marked as persistent as indicated with P in the DID list.
Ecover never uses any such persistent chemicals in its formulations and, in fact, chooses ingredients which maximize the speed of bio-degradation.
They only incorporate readily biodegradable ingredients which degrade faster than inherently degradable ones.
Ecover uses only two inherently degradable (ie slower) cellulose derivatives.
Another relevant difference is that Ecover never used any ingredients that do not degrade in anaerobic conditions such as the settling part of the treatment system
This is more difficult to check for yourself and requires checking the ingredient declaration of mainstream brands on their website.
Any sulfonated surfactant used in many mainstream laundry and toilet products as well as some dish washing liquids does not degrade in anaerobic conditions.