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Ecover adopting algae-based laundry liquid to cut palm oil use

People will soon be able to wash their clothes using a cleaning product derived from algae, a more sustainable source than the palm oil that is currently used in most detergents.

Ecover, the green cleaning company, will launch the algae-based laundry liquid in Europe later in 2014, as part of its pledge to ultimately replace all palm oil.

Palm oil is widely used in both cleaning products and food but has been linked to deforestation, as rainforest and peatlands are cleared for palm plantations, particularly in south east Asia. The destruction drives up carbon emissions and harms biodiversity, including orangutans.

“Through our research into palm oil replacements, we discovered that algae are capable of producing one of the purest and cleanest oils available,” said Dirk Develter, Ecover’s Head of Research and Development. “Algal oils have a much smaller ecological footprint than most tropical oils, such as palm oil, making them ideal for home products, where tropical oils are widely used.”

Professor Wim Soetaert, heads of the Industrial Biotechnology Centre at the University of Ghent and not involved in the research, welcomed the move. “To achieve global sustainability, all industries must comply with no exceptions. With this new development, the household cleaning industry is now making a clear step forward,” he said.

At the start, 7% of the oil ingredients in the laundry liquid will come from algae, Ecover said, with the intention of raising that proportion as more is learned about its use. The first algal oil oil will be produced in Brazil from sugarcane, which is an efficient feedstock with a relatively low carbon and water footprint.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/02/ecover-algae-laundry-liquid-palm-oil 

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