Most people do not realize that all laundry detergent pods (and a newer format, dissolvable sheets), are made from a petroleum-based plastic called Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA or PVOH). While this film dissolves, it does not disappear or readily biodegrade. Research shows that over 75% of intact plastic particles from these laundry and dishwasher pods and sheets are released into our oceans, rivers and soil. Why? Because the conditions needed to completely degrade this plastic are extremely specific and don’t exist in most wastewater treatment facilities.
This plastic film (PVA) has the potential to absorb dangerous chemicals and contaminants, antibiotics, or heavy metals at high concentrations and then work their way up the food chain. PVA has recently been found in drinking water and human breast milk.
Like salt dissolving in water, PVA has the same effect – you can’t see it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. When you toss a laundry pod into your washing machine, the plastic doesn’t disappear, it just breaks up into tiny plastic particles. While it might not be visible to the human eye, it’s still contributing to our current plastic crisis at a massive scale.