The new EU ecolabel criteria were adopted by the Commission on 22 October 2021 in Commission Decision (EU) 2021/1870 for cosmetic and animal care products. This repealed Decision 2014/893/EU. The new criteria offer consumers a third party verified type 1 (ISO 14024) label of eco-friendly products, which considers the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire life cycle.
Previous Ecolabel requirements only applied to rinse-off cosmetics like body wash or shampoo, but the new revision expands the scope to cover all cosmetic products as defined under the EU Cosmetic Product Regulation, including leave-on cosmetics like body lotion, cream, oils, and sunscreen. It also introduces changes to the criteria previously established for rinse-off products and provides a 12-month transition period to adapt to them.
What are the new EU Ecolabel criteria?
The EU Ecolabel criteria aim to reduce the environmental impact of cosmetics on air, water, soil and biodiversity, contributing to a clean and circular economy and to a toxic-free environment.
The criteria aim to promote products with:
- Low toxicity to aquatic organisms
- Biodegradable ingredients
- Restricted use of hazardous substances
- Minimized and easy-to-recycle packaging
- Renewable ingredients of sustainable origin
- Good performance (validated by accredited laboratories and consumer tests)
Excluded and restricted substances
The Ecolabel criteria bans substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction, substances of very high concern, certain nanomaterials, substances identified or suspected of having endocrine disrupting properties, microplastics, phthalates and perfluorinated or polyfluorinated substances.
Specific stringent restrictions are outlined for fragrances, preservatives, colorants and UV filters. Fragrance must not be contained in products marketed for children or as “mild/sensitive”, preservatives must not be formaldehyde releasing, and UV filters must be used only for sun protection of the user and not the product.
Palm oil, palm kernel oil and their derivatives must come from sustainably managed plantations. Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certificates or equivalent are accepted.
Protection from greenwashing
According to the European Environment Bureau, the Eco Label’s clear set of rules to ensure sustainability and independent verification could help tackle greenwashing, which is a growing concern with ‘three out of four products displaying an environmental label or claim in the EU’.
The new criteria will remain valid until 31 December 2027, considering the innovation cycle for cosmetic and animal care products.
What does the EU Ecolabel mean for businesses, and how can Covalo help?
With the growing consumer demand for credibility and transparency on environmentally responsible marketed products, the EU Ecolabel can help increase brand profitability and reputation. The new label can be valuable for unlocking new business opportunities. Suppliers can benefit from increased partnerships with eco-friendly manufacturers who work in accordance with ISO 14024 environmental labelling such as the EU Ecolabel.
At Covalo, we aim to increase transparency of sustainable products and businesses. The comprehensive platform acts as a matchmaker of environmentally responsible ingredient suppliers, contract manufacturers, brands, and service providers through listing sustainability attributes at a company and product level.
Covalo currently supports the search for less hazardous ingredients that are biodegradable and sustainably sourced through listing attributes such as GHS classifications as well as filters for biodegradable and RSPO certification. A number of accredited laboratories offering product performance testing can also be found on the platform.
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