For those inclined to chuckle at the travails of distant, desperate people with dirty dishes, consider this: The detergent industry has pledged to make every automatic dishwashing soap sold in the U.S. and Canada nearly phosphate-free by mid-2010.
With 12 states — including Washington — phasing in low-phosphate laws by the end of next year and four others considering them, industry officials say they are gearing up to produce a new generation of products that will clean dishes while not harming lakes and streams. (The California Legislature passed a phosphate law last year, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.)
The pledge marks a significant turnaround for an industry that until recently not only opposed such laws but also warned that many phosphate-free dishwashing detergents didn't work the way consumers expected them to.
But plenty soon will be available, said Dennis Griesing, vice president of government affairs for the Washington, D.C.-based Soap and Detergent Assn.
So here's the deal. Phosphates really are a danger, creating runoff that kills fish and plants. And Spokane has a uniquely bad problem with phosphates. And apparently it's entirely possible to create phosphate-free detergents. The industry just didn't feel like doing it.
But now their hands are being forced. And guess what? It turns out they can do it after all. Imagine that.