In October 2021, the European Commission adopted a revised set of EU Ecolabel criteria for Cosmetic products, and an all-new criteria for Pet Care products.
Many environmental claims are difficult to understand or are confusing for the consumer. Green self-claims have increased in the cosmetics business, and many have no scientific evidence to back them up. To address this concerning trend, the EU extended the Ecolabel scheme to all cosmetics in October 2021, using a more robust set of criteria thoroughly checked by NGOs.
The EU Ecolabel is a reliable, third party verified, label of environmental excellence, which takes into consideration the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire life-cycle. This begins at the phase of individual raw material (ingredient) extraction and continues throughout the service life of the consumer product including that of its final disposal.
While the current requirements only apply to rinse-off cosmetics like body wash or shampoo, the revised EU Ecolabel criteria for cosmetics is designed to cover a far wider scope. The updated rules will cover ALL cosmetic products as defined under the Cosmetic Product Regulation, including leave-on applications such as body lotion, hand cream, make-up, deodorant, and sunscreen. Additionally, manufacturers of pet care products now have the opportunity to apply for the label through a separate product group which has been set up for this purpose.
Want to learn more about the revised criteria?
The EU Ecolabel is awarded to sustainably designed products, encouraging innovation, and contributing to the EU goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and to a clean and circular economy with a zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment.
Ambitious criteria, focusing on the main environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of the products, ensure that EU Ecolabel cosmetics and pet care products are of good quality and are up there with the best on the market in terms of environmental performance.
The criteria for cosmetics include but are not limited to:
- Ban/prohibition of substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction (CMR’s), substances of very high concern (SVHC’s), nanomaterials, substances identified or suspected of having endocrine disrupting properties, microplastics, phthalates and perfluorinated or polyfluorinated substances.
- Stringent restrictions on substances that are hazardous to the environment, or are skin sensitizing, as well as restrictions on fragrances, preservatives, colorants, and UV filters.
- No fragrance in children’s products, or for products marketed as “mild/sensitive”.
- Only permits the use of sustainably sourced palm oil, palm kernel oil and their derivatives
- Only permits the use of biodegradable surfactants
For the full list of requirements, please refer to the official EU Ecolabel criteria for cosmetics and pet-care products.
New EU Ecolabel to overcome cosmetics greenwashing?
According to the latest research of the European Commission, 42% of green claims are potentially false or deceptive in sectors such as cosmetics, textiles, and household equipment. Additionally, more than half of the green trademarks analyses provide insufficient information or offer no actual evidence to support their green claim.
EU figures show that although most consumers are receptive to green claims when making their purchase decisions, most of them find it difficult to understand which products are truly environmentally friendly. Furthermore, a large number of European consumers say they do not trust this type of information.
Third-party verified schemes seem to be the only way forward to tackle this wave of cosmetics greenwashing.
Relations between EU Ecolabel and Nordic Swan. Is a future coordination possible?
In addition to the EU Ecolabel, a number of other labelling, certification and information management systems are widespread in the Nordic European countries, like the Nordic Swan label. The Swan maintains a strong market position where it is well known and respected in all Nordic countries, and although awareness and knowledge of EU Ecolabel is increasing, it lags behind that of the Swan. In addition, the Swan has produced a larger number of criteria and issued significantly more licenses.
Despite the larger potential market and the lower price of the EU Ecolabel, there is a greater demand for the Swan in the Nordic market. Both systems operate side by side and make use of common resources, and it is likely that the Swan and the EU Ecolabel will be able to co-exist for the time being without radical changes. Increased coordination of the schemes has been supported by efforts to harmonize criteria documents in a case-by-case approach, and there are also joint marketing efforts between the systems, particularly in the case of Denmark. In the other Nordic countries, the EU Ecolabel is less visible through public information and marketing of the ecolabelling bodies. Interviews with companies indicate that there is a demand for both labels, and there are two ways of reasoning among producers – some appreciate and use the Swan on Nordic markets due to its market recognition and strong reputation, whereas others wish to have a label that is valid for larger markets. In a third category, there are producers who choose to use the EU Ecolabel in combination with the Swan, or as a stand-alone label for use solely in the Nordic countries.
The valid questions are, what is the purpose of harmonization and for whom? Should harmonization take place focusing on product groups (harmonizing the product group definitions), criteria (use of existing criteria or creation of core/baseline criteria)? The consequences and results of the different possibilities for harmonization need further exploration.
Sozio’s commitment and ability to offer fragrances compliant with the EU Ecolabel
At Sozio, we promote the use of renewable raw materials that are sustainably sourced or derived from green chemistry. We are also working on solutions that support the development of the circular economy by offering a large choice of fragrances compliant with current labels like EU Ecolabel, GreenSeal, Safer Choice, and through our pioneering efforts in the development of our own CLEAN fragrance label and our innovative Biodegradability tool.
If you need any further information about the EU Ecolabel, please reach out to us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through your designated Sales Representative.