Greenwashing: replacing water use with plastic chips


In the “What were they thinking?” stakes, Leeds University spinout company “Xeros” claims to have invented the near-waterless washing machine.

The machine uses one cup of water and some detergent to wash a whole load of clothes. (They don’t mention how big that load of clothes is.) Amazing! Remarkable! Fresh! This will save the planet! Or so the company would like us to believe.

Oh, and you need to add 20 kg of plastic chips, which “absorb the dirt”. Sssh, don’t mention the plastic. The diagram says that “At the end, a grill opens at the bottom of the drum to remove the chips”, and the chips are “reusable”. Shhh, don’t mention that you need to switch them out every 100 washes. Just say “reusable”!

The company claims that the miracle plastic can remove coffee and lipstick stains. They don’t talk about vomit, faeces, or blood. And the issue of just how the detergent gets back out of the clothes again doesn’t rate a mention. Toxic plasticisers and off-gassing? What’s that?

The mainstream media have uncritically repeated the press release, but Gizmodo commenters are on the case:

And you expect me to believe I’m not going to get tiny plastic chips embedded in all my socks?


Great, now well have 44 lbs. of plastic that smell like shit.

The brilliance of this …. it’s like cutting down the entire forest to prevent forest fires. Bring on the environmental disaster!

great now we have plastic waste instead of soapy water.

guess which one is easier to recycle?

I imagine these plastic chips would be abrasive to most materials, so I am wondering how clothes would stand up to this washing method.

Who here thinks that replacing recyclable, renewable resources with plastics is a dandy idea that will save us all?

Categories: environment, media

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4 replies

  1. Who here thinks that replacing recyclable, renewable resources with plastics is a dandy idea that will save us all?

    I haven’t even heard a single cricket chirping since you posted this. I think that means it’s unanimous – the whole world thinks that this idea is poopyheaded.

  2. About 10 years ago, a conman was flogging something similar around SE Queensland. You just put this plastic block in your washing machine, with no detergent, and hey presto! your clothes are magically clean.

    We declined the opportunity to buy this plastic block off him for $100, but my wife did some graphic design work for him, and he skipped without paying.

    Ever since, I guess you could say that the idea of detergentless washing using plastic has been tainted for us.

  3. People are still selling those “Laundry Balls” – the latest version is branded ”Miracle Wash” here. The Miracle Wash ads say No SLS! No Petrochemicals! No Harsh Detergents! No Toxic Chemicals!
    Other advertising says “No detergent” and “Soap free”.
    You have to add miracle pellets to them, of course. What’s in the pellets? Magical minerals that “release molecules of ionised oxygen”. Oh, and “A a mild and biodegradable surfactant”, “derived from palm oil”. But no _detergent_ or _chemicals_, of course.

  4. It just won’t wash.

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