Home >Understanding the Ecolabel

Understanding the Ecolabel

07 March 2013

Growing demand from businesses for cleaning products which are kind to the environment has seen a rise in the popularity of the Ecolabel. Mark Jankovich explains what the scheme is all about

Growing demand from businesses for cleaning products which are kind to the environment has seen a rise in the popularity of the Ecolabel. Mark Jankovich explains what the scheme is all about

The EU Ecolabel which was introduced in 1992, is a voluntary scheme that helps organisations to choose products that are environmentally friendly yet still work effectively.Achieving accreditation is tough; the product has to meet a set of strict environmental and performance criteria which take into consideration the whole lifecycle of the product.

To understand the meaning of the Ecolabel it is important to have knowledge about the accreditation criteria.Products have to meet with 14 criteria points in order to be awarded the Ecolabel.These are listed below:

Toxicity to aquatic organisms
In order to protect the aquatic environment the critical dilution volume toxicity is tested for each of the product's ingredients.

Biodegradability of surfactants
Each surfactant used in the product has to be readily biodegradable and biodegradable under anaerobic conditions.

Dangerous,hazardous or toxic substances or preparations
This criteria point takes into consideration aspects relating to dangerous, hazardous or toxic substances or preparations, such as the exclusion of certain ingredients in the product, either as part of the formulation or as part of any preparation included in the formulation.

Biocides can only be included in order to preserve the product,and they need to be in appropriate dosage for this purpose alone.This does not refer to surfactants, which may also have biocidal properties.

Dyes or colouring agents
The Ecolabel has strict rules regarding dyes and colouring agents within products.A full list of dye and colouring agents used must be provided to the competent body.

The use of fragrance is again very precise in order to protect the environment.The products cannot have perfumes containing nitromusks or polycyclic musks, and any ingredients added as a fragrance must have been manufactured and/or handled in accordance with the code of practice of the International Fragrance Association.

Sensitising substances
This criteria addresses the use and classification of the risk phrases R42 (which may cause sensitisation by inhalation) and/or R43 (which may cause sensitisation by skin contact).

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
The product must not contain more than 10% (measured by weight) of
volatile organic compounds with a boiling point lower than 150?C.

Some VOCs when released as a gas can cause irritation of the mucous membranes and can aggravate the eyes, nose and throat.

All ingredients containing phosphorus (e.g.phosphates and phosphonates) are taken into account.Total phosphorus content (P) allowed is dependent on product type i.e. for all-purpose cleaners the total phosphorus count (P) must not exceed 0,02 g/functional unit, where as ingredients used in window cleaning products must not contain any phosphorus.When excess phosphorus enters watercourses it reduces the amount of oxygen the water can hold and leads to algal growth.Algal growth has environmental and cost implications including severe reductions in fish and animal populations who live in the water.

Packaging requirements
There are various requirements for packaging.At Delphis Eco the packaging of our products is fully recyclable.Data on packaging needs to be provided to the competent body with a declaration of compliance for each part of the criteria in this section.

Fitness for use
The product needs to be fit for use, meeting the needs of the consumer.This point states that the cleaning ability must be equivalent to or better than a market-leading or generic reference product. During testing our products came out as the same or better than the market leading brand with a rating of 92.6% (the pass rate is 85%).

User instructions
This point is focused around dosage instructions, safety advice, information and labelling of ingredients, and information about the Ecolabel.

Information appearing on the eco-label
This includes criteria of text with regards to the Ecolabel.

Professional training
For detergents, which are used by professional users, training or training materials need to be offered to cleaning staff.

The above points are for summary only and not all criteria information is included. For full and detailed information on the criteria please see:www.ecolabel.eu

Mark Jankovich is managing director of Delphis Eco, the manufacturer of
green cleaning products