Laundry Pod Environmental Impact

Goals

Identify credible and reliable research that demonstrates the environmental impacts of laundry pods and dishwasher pods that are meant to dissolve when being used, if dissolvable pods are the most environmentally sustainable method of making laundry detergent, and whether the dissolving plastics really breakdown naturally into harmless molecules. Focus particularly on identifying researching that discusses the PVOH film that encases the dissolvable pods.

Early Findings

PVOH Film

  • A 2011 study on the biodegradability and environmental impact of PVOH biopolymer packaging found that the environmental burdens of the PVOH packaging under anaerobic digestion conditions on acidification, eutrophication, global warming, and photochemical oxidation potential were dominated by atmospheric emissions. The study concludes that despite these drawbacks, the PVOH biopolymer was an environmentally superior option.
  • EcoSol is a brand of PVOH film used as packaging for detergents, cleaners, and more. A factsheet published by the brand's parent company, Cortec Corporation, says that EcoSol dissolves in water, leaving a harmless, non-toxic, aqueous solution of polyvinyl alcohol. When the liquid solution comes into contact with microorganisms common in water treatment plants, conversion to carbon dioxide ad water takes place within 30 days.
  • PVOH Polymers Limited conducted an EU-funded project in 2018 and 2019 to develop detergent packaging using PVOH film that was biodegradable and environmentally friendly. The packaging incorporates higher sodium chloride and lower PVOH content, resulting in a lower price, and increased solubility rate, and a stabilized atmospheric water absorption of the PVOH.
  • The Environment Canada Domestic Substance List does not consider polyvinyl alcohol to be an environmental toxin. The list also does not categorize it as persistent or bioaccumulative.
  • The FDA has approved PVOH film to be used in contact with food.

Other Relevant Information

Proposed next steps:

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