Original and supposed biodegradability

Direct the purity or pollute the planet?

In XXI century the level of use of synthetic substances and materials has become so high that the level of threat to the ecology of our planet moved from the category relevant to the category vital.

Our planet is literally becomes poisoned. Household chemical products, created with the purpose to make our life more comfortable and pleasant turned against our lives. World scientific thought now is to state: nature does not cope with constant hourly chemical attack, it is not able to "digest" such a huge number of chemicals.

One of the main sources of pollutants to the environment, are detergents. For centuries people have solved the problem of cleaning and washing with the help of natural organic substances: ash, lime, salt, charcoal, later soap, which are produced from animal and vegetable fats.

The rapid development of chemical science and introduction of its revolutionary discoveries in everyday life has led to the emergence of a vast range of synthetic detergents on the basis of aggressive chemical compounds. Being sufficiently effective and relatively inexpensive, these funds have a negative impact on the environment, especially on the ecology of water bodies, because they get there with wastewater. How contaminated with chemicals reservoirs detrimental affect on their inhabitants, on the environment and through the deterioration of drinking water quality on human health, written and said a lot. 

Biodegradability- from solution to norm

Humanity begins to realize how great is a threat. And looks for a way out. Switching over the use of biodegradable detergents is one of the most perspective solution.

Biodegradable materials, getting into the environment under the influence of natural factors (solar rays, atmospheric phenomena, microorganisms and so on), eventually break down into components that are safe for the environment - water, carbon dioxide, mineral salts.       

Surfactants are the main active components of any detergent. It does a major “work” in removal of different contaminants. Surfactants are divided into synthetical and natural. Surfactant’s capability for biodegradability defines the safety level of detergents for the environment.

 If all natural surfactants are fully biodegradable, synthetic - not all. For instance, phosphates, which are widely used in synthetic detergents, do not decompose and in lakes stimulate abnormal and harmful for all living a parasitic growth of blue algae.

 Biodegradability in addition to saving the environment and a positive influence on people's health, has a purely economic effect. It is estimated that the use of non biodegradable synthetic detergents causes an increased load on the treatment facilities (this load increases approximately in 1,5-2 times), which in turn leads to the necessity of using more powerful, and, accordingly, more expensive facilities. However, they may not always lead to the desired results because of the high toxicity of the substances used in detergents.

There is such a thing as a primary degradation of materials and complete biodegradability. The first means that the material loses its surface properties due to serious structural changes due to the impact of microorganisms. Complete biodegradability means that the substance is destroyed up to the formation of water and carbon dioxide.

The problems of biodegradability materials and in particular of detergents are being addressed, both at the state and at the international level. Such regulations were adopted today at the level of the EU Customs Union. In particular, the European legislation resolved relative to the standard primary biological decomposing surface-active substances, i.e. decomposition to harmless elements (naturally found in the environment). This standard is set in the EEC Directive 73/404/EEC and requires biodegradability exceeded 90%; recently this rate was 80%. Working compounds are decomposed by 85% in 28 days, and then decompose completely.

In accordance with the "Uniform sanitary-epidemiological and hygienic requirements to the goods subject to sanitary and epidemiological supervision (control)", approved by the Decision of the Commission of the Customs Union on may 28, 2010 № 299, for all surfactants, produced and imported on the territory of the Customs Union, should be defined indicators of biodegradability. 

Biodegradability and certification: benefit or responsibility?

In Ukraine in 2006 under the contract with the Ministry of industrial policy of Ukraine, LLC "Scientific and technical centre" VNIICHIMPROEKT "have developed Technical regulations of detergents.

Technical regulations adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated August 20, 2008 № 717 "On approval of Technical regulations of detergents".

Starting from 1 January 2012, the requirements of Technical regulations is mandatory for all domestic manufacturers of detergents and importers of these products.

The requirements of the Technical regulations apply to:

1. Detergents intended for washing or cleaning, and put into circulation on the territory of Ukraine for consumer use;

2. Auxiliary washing preparations, intended for soaking, rinsing or bleaching of fabrics;

3. Fabric softeners used in the processes that complement washing;

4. Cleaning materials, products, machinery, mechanical appliances, vehicles and accessories, tools, equipment, etc. intended for use in the domestic sphere;

5. Other drugs intended for use during washing and cleaning.

In accordance with the Technical regulations basic requirement for cleaning tool, the use of which may cause harm to the environment and health of consumers is the ability to primary and full biological decomposing surface-active substances, included in its composition.

Conformity of the detergents with the technical regulations is confirmed by appropriate certificates. The certificate is issued on the basis of certification tests, which are conducted only in accredited to ISO 17025 accredited laboratories. The production which has passed the test, receives national conformity mark necessarily applied for packaging products.

However, in the legislative requirements for biodegradability of product, as well as the procedure for assessing conformity and requirements to organizations conducting certification, spelled out in general terms. This has led to appearance of such spheres of business as certification services on a commercial basis. A number of "independent certification centers and agencies for environmental certification" vying offers its services. These centres and bodies even in advertisements and on the first pages of their sites almost proclaim guarantee positive results of certification. "To get a certificate is very simple! Call now!", - lure commercial specialists certifiers trusting manufacturers. However, gullible?

It is clear that the manufacturer, spreading from his pocket a certain (and no!) the amount initially expects to obtain the desired result. At that the user can only hope for the integrity of the manufacturer, that social responsibility, knowing that the future of our planet and our children to some extent depends on you, will not allow the manufacturer for the sake of momentary benefit to deal with fraud, waving as a flag, fake certificate. Unfortunately, these hopes are justified not always.

Many revelations in the media, when it detected a whole lot of products not conforming to technical regulations, including the rules of biodegradability, but at the same time provided by the "correct" certificates, seriously challenge the integrity and transparency of this business. The problem is that the consequences of such activities are not apparent immediately, but only when the damage is already done, and direct perpetrators discover impossible.

Honest, socially responsible manufacturer, is to certify their products, addressing the organizations, whose authority is not subject to doubt. Such organization in Ukraine, for example, Scientific and technical center of VNIICHIMPROEKT, which have developed Technical regulations of detergents based on our own research and in-depth study of the world experience.

A sample certificate of biodegradability, issued by VNIICHIMPROEKT


The problem of commercial certificates should be solved on the state level. But the state will start to work in this direction only when to force him to do this society, each of us. But, besides the state, there is also a market laws, which are much more effective. If the consumer thinks about his future and the future of their children, if they start to give preference to environmentally friendly products that do not affect the environment, then the business will have to pass completely to manufacture of such products, otherwise he'll just have to leave the market. This creates social responsibility, a responsibility from which everyone has its benefits.