Ecolab has introduced an industrial laundry program that it says cleans heavily soiled textiles without using hazardous chemicals and can save industrial laundry customers as much as 3 million gallons of water a year.
The Performance Industrial Program is a three-product system that uses Ecolab’s patented Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE)-free chemistry to remove petroleum, oil and grease.
Nonylphenol (NP) and NPEs, which are used in a wide variety of industrial applications and consumer products such as laundry detergents, are highly toxic to aquatic organisms, the EPA says. Once released into the water system, NPEs degrade to NP, which is bioaccumulative and can act as a hormone disruptor, according to the agency.
Through its Design for the Environment Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative, the EPA is working with the textile industry to eliminate NPEs in industrial laundry detergents by 2013 for liquid detergents and 2014 for powder detergents.
Industrial laundries have found it challenging to find effective, NPE-free alternatives, Ecolab says. The Performance Industrial Program uses a blend of surfactants, conditioner and soil suspension agents. The company says the cleaning products deliver soil removal and whiteness results comparable to detergents using NPE chemistry.
Ecolab says the Performance Industrial Program also provides operational savings to industrial laundries by shortening wash cycles, reducing rinse steps and helping customers to conserve water and energy.
In January, Victoria’s Secret parent company Limited Brands and the Benetton Group agreed to eliminate NPEs and other hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020 after pressure from Greenpeace to sign on to its Detox campaign. A month earlier, Zara, one of the world’s largest clothing retailers, made the same pledge.
The commitments followed a November 2012 Greenpeace report, which found NPEs and other hazardous chemical residues in clothing made by Zara, Calvin Klein, Benetton, Giorgio Armani, the Gap and 15 other global brands.