There’s a new bill proposed to ban phosphates from your dishwashing detergents here in Massachusetts, Senate Bill 536, proposed by Pamela Resor of Acton. For background, nitrogen and phosphates are two of the major culprits in coastal and aquatic pollution. Having grown up near the Chesapeake Bay and lived near Lake Erie, I’ve followed what a big deal these nutrients are in creating aquatic pollution. I was shocked to notice recently that I couldn’t find a dishwashing detergent that didn’t wasn’t 4-9% phosphates by weight in my local grocery store.
A little digging showed that while phosphates were banned from laundry products long ago (in the 80’s), the move to ban them from dishwashing detergents is new. There’s a national movement afoot that Forbes reports on to correct this problem (Maryland and Washington state leading the way), and in-state activists near Assabet River are concerned about eutrophication problems from phosphates as well and have a nice site describing this bill and comparing detergent phosphate content.
This is a no-brainer bill, Seventh Generation and Trader Joes and other companies have been making phosphate free dishwasher products for up to a decade. From a cape perspective, coastal pollution has serious economic implications to say the least. Yet my local paper, the Falmouth Enterprise says there “appears to be little interest on Beacon Hill” about the bill, although the article also quotes Matthew Patrick of Falmouth as saying it has a good chance of passing. The Cape Cod Times just put out an editorial on the bill. And the CCT as well as the Assabett River folks encourage people to write the committee chairman Sen. Steven Panagiotakos of the the Mass Senate Committee on Ways and Means to support the bill. It may not be glamorous, but this bill needs to pass.