What are eco-labels?

 

So. You have decided you want to use more environmentally friendly products. You start to look into it and realise they all have different labels that claim to be an enviro-friendly stamp of approval, but what should you look out for exactly? 

There is lots to talk about when we talk environmentally friendly. There are many, many different factors that make a product eco friendly or not. With regards to cleaning products this can range from the chemicals used in the product itself to the way it is manufactured and transported. There are also a wide variety of companies and foundations giving their own ‘Stamp of Approval’. So what is out there?

Nordic Swan label

W.E.I.R. Green Tick

EU Ecolabel


These are just a couple of the vast amount of labels on the market. Check out the full list of ecolabels, there are more than you might think: http://www.ecolabelindex.com/ecolabels/

There are many different labels, lots of companies have made them so that people know which of their products are eco friendly and which are not. For example did you know Starbucks has their own eco label? So what are these labels saying about the products exactly?

Sustainability

For a product to be sustainable it must balance social development, economic development and environmental protection. That’s right; for anything to be sustainable it must look after the environment, for without that it would not be able to sustain itself indefinitely because it would eventually destroy the environment around it, no matter how little the damage is, if it is not accounted for it will get worse. This accounts for the production and distribution process as well.

Biodegradability

For an object to be biodegradable it must be capable of decomposing under natural conditions. This means it should be able to be consumed by bacteria, fungi or other natural means. So to protect the environment, the things we discard into it (be that via landfill or water course) should be as bio degradable as possible.

Recycled content and recyclability

This is the ability for a material to be captured and separated from a waste stream for conversion or reuse. When it comes to cleaning materials of course this means the packaging. What we do here is re-use the bottles, not something the label tells you but a good common sense approach to making the most of what we have. Unfortunately, of course, many plastics are non-recyclable so this approach is sometimes necessary.

Toxicity/risk to aquatic organisms

As this is an environmentally friendly cleaning company, and we check into the eco labels on the cleaning products that we buy in, this is one of the things that we check for. The effects of a toxin can be divided into 3 categories: neurophysiological, behavioural and reproductive effects. These categories all affect each other and the amount depends on the toxicity of the substance and the quantity. Any products released with an eco label must have the scientific data to back it up as reduced toxicity.

Other issues—palm oil, corrosive properties, VOC’s

There are other environmental issues that need to be talked about that might be relatively new issues that do not have or fit into another category. Palm oil has been a hot topic recently—it must be sustainably sourced, and it appears a lot of companies have been sourcing this oil irresponsibly. Palm oil (from palm trees) can destroy many animal habitats when it is farmed. VOC’s are any unwanted harmful vapours—for example formaldehyde from paint.

Conclusion

Well that is a load of reasons to keep your eyes peeled for the eco labels! We certainly do at Green Clean, it is part of our business practice to be environmentally conscious when choosing products. We hope you follow our lead, and if you are looking for a cleaning company that truly values the planet we live on, choose us.

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