University of Minnesota
Minnesota Technical Assistance Program

Electrolux Reduces Phosphorus by 86%

Electrolux Home Products in St. Cloud employs about 1,650 people, manufacturing freezers. Historically, the manufacturing process included a metal phosphate conversion coating to improve paint adhesion and, after painting, to protect the metal from corrosion. The cleaners and sealant solutions from its two wash systems contributed phosphorus to the City of St. Cloud Wastewater Treatment Facility. In order to assist the publicly owned treatment works (POTW) with reducing phosphorus discharges to the Mississippi River, Electrolux developed a project to identify and aggressively implement non-phosphate alternatives in its wash processes.

Process changed


Baseline change (%)


Baseline, 2 systems




Larger wash stage



May 04

Larger sealant stage



Aug 04

Smaller system



Jan 05


In the extremely competitive market of major home appliances, the project parameters were simple and inflexible: no disruption to production or quality, and no cost increases (beyond the estimate of pretreatment costs). After reviewing several alternatives, Electrolux converted the wash stage on one of its paint systems to a non-phosphorus chemical cleaner. Continuing in a proactive manner, the facility converted the sealant stage of the same system to a non-phosphorus chemical.  With the success of the larger of the two systems in place, Electrolux began to convert the second system to the non-phosphorus wash. The latest changes are expected to drop the phosphorus loading to less than five pounds per day, resulting in a total reduction of about 90%.

This project was one of many improvements made over the last five years in St. Cloud that helped the city’s POTW reduce its total wastewater influent loading by 25%.

Data source: City of St. Cloud









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