The European Commission (EC) has proposed a regulation that would ban phosphates from laundry detergents sold in the European Union (EU). The proposed ban, to take effect January 1, 2013, would apply to household laundry detergent brands but not detergents for dishwashers or detergents designed for professional use.

According to EC, the ban is necessary because phosphates in laundry detergents contribute to eutrophication—depletion of oxygen resulting in algae buildup due to excess nutrients in rivers, lakes and seas. The proposed regulation must be ratified by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which represents the governments of EU member states.