The suds in detergents are caused by a type of chemical called “surfactants”. These chemicals are either derived from petroleum sources (petrochemical), or from plant oils (oleochemical). Both types of surfactants have their own environmental impacts, and neither are very soluble in water, which makes them toxic to the environment.
Petrochemical surfactants rely on the oil industry, which has many of its own environmental issues, while oleochemical surfactants require heavy agricultural input, which can also negatively impact the environment.
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