Polyphosphates, primarily sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP)
are highly effective multi-function components for laundry and dishwasher detergents and in various specialist cleaning products for specific industrial and commercial applications. In Europe, phosphates are used in detergents for hospitals and for commercial and institutional laundries where very high levels of washing performance and hygiene are necessary.
In detergents, phosphates fulfil
a number of different functions, so that if they are not used several different
chemicals must be added to replace them. Polyphosphates are also used in various
industrial and technical applications, in particular in ceramics, and are an
authorised food ingredient.
Polyphosphates are based on the element Phosphorus, which is essential for
all living organisms, plants, animals and man. Phosphates are present in sewage
from both detergents and (the main source) from human foods, transferred into
human wastes; and also in animal manures, food industry wastes. Phosphates
can be recovered from these sources and recycled back into industry, into fertilisers
or into detergents. Pilot projects have shown this to be feasible, and a number
of full scale installations are now operational. This makes phosphates, today, the only recyclable ingredient
CEEP, the joint research association of the European detergent and industrial polyphosphates industry now operates as part of PAPA (the European Phosphoric Acid and Phosphates Producers Association), a Cefic Sector Group.