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Understanding the Ecolabel

The EU Ecolabel was first introduced in 1992 with the purpose of making it easier for consumers to identify green products and services. It currently operates in 27 member states in the EU and is administered by Defra in the UK. We speak to Mark Jankovich, managing director of Delphis Eco, who has achieved accreditation for nine of the Delphis Eco green cleaning products, with four more products currently being tested.

The Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme that enables purchasers to choose products that are kinder to the environment and yet still work effectively. Achieving accreditation is tough; it has to be in order to protect the buyer. 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. Cleaning products have to meet with 14 criteria points in order to be awarded the Ecolabel. These are listed, in summary, below:

  1. 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.
  2. Biodegradability of surfactants
    Each surfactant used in the product has to be readily biodegradable and biodegradable under anaerobic conditions.
  3. 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.
  4. Biocides
    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. Prohibited is a scary word. And we although our Anti-Bac is not accredited – we don’t want to scare anyone off!
  5. 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.
  6. Fragrances
    The use of fragrance is again very precise in order to protect the environment. The products cannot have perfumes containing nitro-musks 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. Phosphorus
    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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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%).
  12. User instructions
    This point is focused around dosage instructions, safety advice, information and labelling of ingredients, and information about the Ecolabel.
  13. Information appearing on the eco-label
    This includes criteria of text with regards to the Ecolabel.
  14. 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 contact the EU Ecolabel directly, or visit the website http://europea.eu.int/ecolabel
To find out more about the Delphis Eco green cleaning product range please call them on 0203 397 0096 or visit their website www.delphiseco.com

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