Are Ecover products biodegradable? (7 advantages of Ecover on the environment) 

In this article, it shall be explored whether Ecover products are biodegradable or not. The eco-friendliness of Ecover products and processes shall also be assessed. Other topics covered would be: 

  • What is Ecover?
  • What difference does Ecover make to the world?
  • What are most detergents made from?
  • What is biodegradability and why do we need it?
  • FAQs

Are Ecover products biodegradable?

Yes, Ecover products are biodegradable since they are made from plant-based products such as corn sugars, coconut oil, rapeseed oil, and palm oil. 

The processes that are employed to make Ecover products are also eco-friendly because renewable sources and recycled materials are used. 

Further, Ecover products can also be reused. The products are vegan, non-toxic and even cruelty-free. 

What is Ecover?

Before a stance can be built on the biodegradability of Ecover, it is important to know what Ecover is in the first place.

Ecover is a green company that is associated with the manufacturing of eco-friendly detergents and cleaning agents. 

These detergents and cleaning agents are claimed to be derived from plants and minerals which do not cause any great or significant harm to the people and the environment. 

Ecover is a Belgian company that was founded in 1979 with the aim of reducing the harmful impacts on the environment. These endeavours began with the introduction of phosphate-free products in the consumer market. ‘

That is because phosphate is linked to a number of detrimental effects on human health, life in general and also the environment. The negative impacts of phosphates on aquatic life are also well-established. 

Later on, the company shifted its focus to cleaning products made from plant-based ingredients because of the eco-friendly aspects of such ingredients. Whereas, conventional detergents usually available in the consumer market are linked to a plethora of negative effects on health and the environment. 

Ecover also claims to manufacture its products in an eco-friendly manner by the use and utilisation of renewable sources only and hence being carbon neutral to the environment. 

Zero carbon and zero waste is a top priority of the company. The company makes use or recycled plastic in its bottles which can be reused. 

Ecover also prioritises sustainable design and packaging by only using recycled products that cause the least harm. The transportation of Ecover products is also kept as sustainable as possible by buying local wherever possible. 

What difference does Ecover make to the world?

With the advent of science, technology and increased consumerism, the focus of the world shifted to commercial products with amazing benefits while also being cost-effective. After the industrialisation era, the frequency of this proclivity increased quite a lot. 

As a result, more commercial products were made than ever to meet the rising needs of consumer demands. However, back then it was little known that those commercial products had great impacts on the environment and life in a destructive manner. 

As environmental sciences developed as a field, it was seen that commercial products such as polymers affected life in the most dramatic ways. The effects included health issues, global warming, habitat destruction, and loss of life to name a few. 

Laundry detergents were also among such products that were of good use and good value, but very bad for the health and the environment. 

Usually, laundry detergents are made from commercial and harmful chemicals which may have good utilitarian value at cheap prices. However, these rather inexpensive chemicals come at the cost of our environment. 

The use of harmful chemicals in laundry detergents is linked to a plethora of negative impacts on human health, life in general, and the environment. These impacts may be: 

  • Aquatic toxicity 
  • Chemical releases
  • Lungs issues
  • Skin irritation 
  • Skin allergies
  • Neurological issues 
  • Cancers
  • Damage to foetus 
  • Effects on hormones
  • Neurotoxicity 

These are some of the harmful effects of conventional laundry soaps that have been excavated by literature and studies. As a result of these harmful impacts, many eco-friendly endeavours are seen in the commercial marketplace including Ecover. 

The primary role of Ecover products is the negation of these effects by the production of eco-friendly products in a sustainable manner. And in this way, there is no tradeoff between environment, economy, and utility. 

What are most laundry detergents made from?

Some of the basic ingredients used in most detergents include:

  • Alkalies 
  • Surfactants
  • Anti redospiting agents
  • Colourants
  • Catalytic enzymes 
  • Functional materials 
  • Fragrance  

Alkalis are used to neutralise the acidity so that dirt, grease and stains can be removed from the fabric without excessive effort. Alkali substances can be mild to high strengths based on the type of detergent. 

Examples of alkali substances are baking soda, borax, ammonia, trisodium phosphate, caustic soda, lye, and washing soda. These chemicals may be toxic for humans when taken up. These chemicals are also known to cause harm to the environment. 

Surfactants are one of the most important ingredients used in laundry detergents. They are responsible for the breakage of stains and the suspension of dirt. Examples may include alkyl sulphates, alkyl ethoxylate sulphates, ethers or fatty alcohol. 

These chemicals are also associated with detrimental impacts on human health and the environment and that is why care should be imparted in using laundry detergents because inapt use may reciprocate into unhealthy or even fatal circumstances. 

Some of the functional materials used in laundry detergents can be:

  • pH adjusters (to maintain the pH and neutralise) 
  • Water conditioners (for the management of hard water)
  • Optical brighteners (used as an alternative to bleach) 
  • Preservatives (to deter microbial contamination and growth) 

Enzymes are also very important components of a typical laundry detergent. Examples of enzymes used are protease, amylase, cellulase, lipase, and pectinase. All these enzymes break various dirt elements of clothes such as grease, stain or dirt. 

The use of chemical enzymes has increased the utilitarian value of laundry detergents because before more detergents were used and at specific conditions of temperatures. 

Fragrances and colourants are used to add a good scent to laundry detergents and eventually the clothes while also making the clothes’ colour quite fervent. 

Therefore, it can be summed up that the story of laundry detergents started with natural substances such as lye, but with increased use and greater demand, many synthetic interventions were adopted for laundry detergents.

As a result, the utilitarian value of laundry detergents increased but also at the cost of our environment and human health which have been discussed in detail in the previous sections. 

What is biodegradability and why do we need it?

Biodegradability is a process of conversion of complex substances to simpler substances by the action of microbes. The process is important because it is opted by mother nature to make sure that no waste is left. 

If the generated waste is not biodegraded, then there will be many grave impacts on humanity and its future because the occurrence of this waste will render us and the Earth incapacitated to sustain life. 

Biodegradability is brought about by various drivers but the most important driver is microbes. Microbes can be bacteria, fungi, algae, decomposers, protozoa, and also yeast. 

These microbes are capacitated to break down the complex structure but are more compatible with natural substances like plant-based or animal-based waste. However, these microbes do not gel well with synthetic substances and can not degrade them.

Resultantly, synthetic materials like polymers or e-waste end up in the environment for hundreds of years causing great harm to the environment. 

Among the various harmful effects of non-biodegradable waste, there are: 

  • Loss of life
  • Pollution (air, water and land) 
  • Depletion of oxygen availability in water bodies 
  • Species endangerment 
  • Change in soil characteristics 
  • Toxification of plants
  • Infiltration in food webs 
  • Global warming 
  • Ozone layer damage 

These are some of the few environmental impacts that are caused by non-biodegradable waste. Non-biodegradable waste also causes harm to the animal and human life. The various health risks associated with non-biodegradable waste can be:

  • Lungs infection 
  • Liver infection 
  • Damage to foetus 
  • Neurological impairment 
  • Cancer 
  • Genetic mutations 
  • Behavioural changes 
  • Eye diseases
  • Skin infections 

Is Ecover biodegradable? (7 advantages of Ecover on the environment) 

We have established that biodegradability is the degradation through microbes of natural substances. For a product to be biodegradable, it should also be natural. 

Now, let us explore our next important question which is whether Ecover products and processes are biodegradable or not. 

The basic ingredients used in Ecover products are corn sugar, and plant oils including rapeseed oil, coconut oil and palm oil. 

It is studied and finalised that Ecover products are biodegradable and the Ecover processes are eco-friendly. This is because: 

  • Ecover products (detergents and cleaning agents) make use of plant-based materials
  • Ecover products avoid the use of petroleum-based products
  • Ecover products are vegan and cruelty-free
  • Ecover products make use of recycled plastics in their bottles
  • Ecover products make use of biodegradable & recyclable packaging material 
  • Ecover products can be reused (as detergents bottles can be refilled) being beneficial to both the environment and the economy
  • Ecover products are from renewable sources of energy (zero carbon footprint) 

Most of the detergents available in the market are made from petroleum-based products, as discussed in the previous section. There are many negative sides to this proclivity. 

Firstly, those materials are made from harmful chemicals which affect the environment when they are disposed of. These chemicals might leech out and cause pollution, environmental degradation, and affect life. 

Secondly, as these products are based on petroleum, their processing affects the environment directly usually through the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. 

As a result, many phenomena are observed such as global warming, rising sea levels, changed weather patterns et cetera. 

However, Ecover avoids these effects by the use of green technology in the products and processes associated with commercial production. 

For example, since palm oil is linked with deforestation, the company replaced palm oil with rapeseed oil to curb and deal with deforestation, reducing the use of palm oil by more than 200 tons per year. 

Conclusion 

It is concluded that Ecover products are biodegradable since they are made from plant-based products such as corn sugars, coconut oil, rapeseed oil, and palm oil. 

The processes that are employed to make Ecover products are also eco-friendly because renewable sources and recycled materials are used. 

Further, Ecover products can also be reused. The products are vegan, non-toxic and even cruelty-free. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are Ecover products manufactured sustainably?

Yes, Ecover products are manufactured and are claimed to be zero waste and zero carbon footprint. This implies that renewable sources of energy are used and natural materials are employed. 

Does Ecover make use of plastic?

Yes, Ecover uses recycled plastic in its bottles. These bottles however can be reused and recycled adhering to the 3R approach given off by the environmentalists. 

Reference 

  • Dagley, S. (1978). Determinants of biodegradability. Quarterly reviews of biophysics, 11(4), 577-602.
  • Bajpai, D. (2007). Laundry detergents: an overview. Journal of oleo science, 56(7), 327-340.
  • Larson, A., Werhane, P. H., Reichart, J., & Spiro, L. Ecover and Green Marketing (B).
  • Ingsel, T., de Souza, F. M., & Gupta, R. K. (2022). Biosurfactants for industrial applications. In Green Sustainable Process for Chemical and Environmental Engineering and Science (pp. 467-493). Academic Press.

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