Over the past half century or more, domestic appliances have made washing clothes and dishes at home easier. But what is the industry doing to cut their environmental impact?

As storms go, it was symbolically timed. The threat of impending 100mph winds lingered throughout the recent Household Care Sustainability Summit in Copenhagen. Towards the end of the summit, the gales duly hit and the transport network shuddered.

Brooding skies are on the horizon for the household care sector too. You might not know it from looking at the current market. Sales of domestic washing detergents – both for clothes and dishes – are buoyant. Improvements in home appliances, coupled with technological advances in product formulae, mean it has never been quicker or easier to get washing-related chores done.

Yet washing machines and dishwashers, even in their most modern guises, are energy and water intensive. At present, more than 1,100 machines washes are started every second in European households. And the projections for future growth are startling. Today, worldwide a total of 1.2bn washing machines are in operation. The number is set to increase to 1.5bn by 2020, according to Ian Bell, head of home care...

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clothes  domestic appliances  Environment  home  innovation  products 

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