Jordan is cleaning up its act, at least in terms of laundry detergent, with a project entitled Concentrate for the Environment. The voluntary, industry-led initiative aims to reduce the negative environmental impact of powdered laundry soap. Seems the soap industry excels at greenwashing; this looks like corporate cost-shaving spun into environmental (fool’s) gold.
Participating manufacturers and suppliers of powder detergents commit to condensing heavy-duty powder detergents by 25 percent, reducing the amount of product needed while maintaining cleaning performance (and typically, product pricing). Concentrated detergents result in smaller packaging and lower shipping costs, which slash the costs of getting soaps on market shelves.
Manufacturers maintain revenues while selling less product, a winning business model. Sure, there are associated reductions to the products’ carbon footprint, but the real environmental risks in detergents lie in the polluting aspects of their manufacture and final disposal as waste products – neither addressed by this initiative.
The nationwide scheme was launched by the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (A.I.S.E.) in collaboration with the Jordon Environmental Society (JES), and will be supported by TV and outdoor advertising through March 2014.
“The Concentrate for the Environment initiative [launched internationally as the Laundry Sustainability Project] has been successfully implemented in several countries, including Morocco, Egypt and the GCC where it achieved positive environmental savings. By bringing this initiative to Jordan, we hope to instill better practices in detergent usage and raise awareness on the environmental benefits of shifting to more compact powder detergents,” said Susanne Zaenker, A.I.S.E. Director General, in a press release.
Jordan imports over 97 percent of its energy and suffers from a chronic water shortage, so soapmakers serious about environmental improvement should focus on products that require less water and electricity.
They could also tackle the kingdom’s enormous plastic pollution problem by adopting biodegradable product packaging. And how about addressing the “elephant in the washing machine” and improve the chemical make-up of products to be less toxic to our waterways?
A.I.S.E. is the official body of the soaps, detergents and maintenance products industry in Europe with a mission “to benefit society by contributing to the sustainable improvement of the quality and comfort of life through hygiene and cleanliness, in a free, competitive and innovative way.”
JES Executive Director Ahmad Al-Kofahi said, “Given the initiative’s success in a number of Arab countries, it is inevitable that we would partner with A.I.S.E. in launching the project in Jordan.”
Better that JES would hop on a soapbox and urge that this project be customized to better fit Jordan’s environmental needs.
Image of a man in a laundromat from Shutterstock