Another Triumph for the Greens

To go with toilets that don’t flush and light bulbs that don’t light, we now have dishwashers that don’t wash.

Jonathan V. Last
The Weekly Standard

…It so happens that in the last six months, a lot of people have suddenly discovered their dishwashers don’t work as well as they used to. The problem, though, isn’t the dishwashers. It’s the soap. Last July, acceding to pressure from environmentalists, America’s dishwasher detergent manufacturers decided to change their formulas. And the new detergents stink.

One of the key ingredients in dish detergent is (or was) phosphorus. Phosphorus is a sociable element, bonding easily and well with others. In detergent, it strips food and grease off dirty dishes and breaks down calcium-based stains. It also keeps the dirt suspended in water, so it can’t reattach to dishes. Best of all, it prevents the washed-away grime and minerals from gumming up the inner-workings of your dishwasher. Traditionally, phosphorus was loaded into dish detergent in the form of phosphates, which are compounds of phosphorus bonded to oxygen. (PO4 if you’re keeping score at home.) Prior to last July, most detergents were around 8 percent elemental phosphorus. Now they’re less than 0.5 percent phosphorus.

The result is detergents that don’t work very well. There have been a handful of stories in the media about consumer complaints. The New York Times noted that on the review section of the website for Cascade—Procter & Gamble’s market-leading brand—ratings plummeted after the switch, with only 11 percent of consumers saying they would recommend the product. One woman in Florida told National Public Radio that she called Procter & Gamble to complain about how its detergent no longer worked. The customer rep told her to consider handwashing the dishes instead…

…But the industrial giants who manufacture dish detergent didn’t decide to reduce phosphate levels on their own. They were compelled. There’s nothing new about that. Governments routinely force both businesses and consumers to make trade-offs they wouldn’t otherwise make. For instance, by 2014, you’ll no longer be able to buy traditional, functional, cheap, incandescent light bulbs—because the government believes that compact-fluorescent light bulbs are better. What’s interesting about the case of the lousy dishwasher detergent is that the new formulas aren’t the result of a crushing federal mandate. Rather, the entire nation’s dish detergent supply was changed because two politicians in Spokane, Washington, wanted phosphates banned. And now the rest of America is living with the consequences.

Running through the center of the dish detergent story is the Spokane River…

Read the entire article at The Weekly Standard.

H/T Protein Wisdom

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