On most platforms of climate change & global warming and issues of green house gases emissions have been discussed at length but issues of drain emissions because of increased consumption patterns of urban lifestyle and work culture have been rarely discussed. This is especially in India where negligible regulation exists on the control of products going down the drains through domestic, office and industrial cleaning requirements.
For example, toilet bowl cleaners available in India to common customers and a quite number of products available to institutional customers are made from hydrochloric acid. This is an extremely harmful and hazardous acid which has been banned in the entire European Union for use as a raw material in toilet cleaners.
If we consider the population of an average town to be around 15 million, then there should be around one house for every four people which makes it about 37.5 lakh houses. If we consider 50% of these houses to be in the lower, middle & upper income groups, that makes it 18.75 lakh houses. Every house on an average with two bathrooms makes it about 37.5 lakh bathrooms. If these houses wash their toilet bowls even four times a week it is about 150 lakh washes a week.
On an average 20ml acidic toilet bowl cleaner for one wash makes it three lakh litres of hazardous acidic cleaner going into our drains / earth & rivers every week. That is a big figure for just one city and only for toilet bowl cleaners. Then we have laundry washing, utensils washing and floor mopping, which are again being done by cleaners containing hazardous substances such as neutralised acid slurry based detergents and hazardous & carcinogenic phenol.
Thus we have to realise that responsibility to the environment begins at home. All of us should look at packages of cleaning products for their ingredients and the government should run a customer education series on eco-friendly programmes before bringing suitable regulation to ban hazardous substances in cleaning chemicals.
Green cleaning can definitely be achieved since eco-friendly cost effective and performance oriented technologies in cleaning chemicals have been developed across the world and it is only a matter of adopting these by private manufacturers in a phased time frame.
Haylide Chemicals has been setting new standards and has started to work with various Government agencies for a new Eco Certification mark to define eco-friendly products in the market place.Archana Bhatnagar, Haylide Chemicals