We believe the various expressions referring to cleaning and hygiene chemicals such as 'Safe to the Environment' or 'Environmentally Friendly' are contradictions in terms as every chemical has some impact on the environment.
How do you judge whether a product has a high or low impact on the environment?
Some manufacturing companies may decide that if a product contains biodegradable surfactants or is neutral, it is sufficient justification to make such claims.
If a highly active neutral product is used undiluted, how does this compare with an alkali product that is diluted 1 part to 100 parts water? Which has the least impact on the environment?
The Enov range of chemicals has been formulated to ensure the impact is kept to an absolute minimum and has been designed to comply with all current European Regulations concerning biodegradability and the preservation of the environment.
There are various schemes used in Europe to determine environmental impact but none takes account of all of the relevant factors.
The impact rating is determined using the following 7 criteria:-
1. Raw materials used.
2. Risk of release to the environment.
3. Environmental hazard classification.
4. Impact of water used in product.
5. Impact of usage.
7. Impact of energy used to prepare & manufacture a finished product.
Each product is analysed in order to produce a score. The lower the overall score, the lower the impact it has on the environment.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was created in October 2008, bringing together energy policy with climate change mitigation policy– http://www.decc.gov.uk
The Mayor of London's Green Procurement Code is a support service for London based organisations committed to reducing their environmental impact through responsible purchasing. http://www.greenprocurementcode.co.uk
Alliance UK is aware of the issues surrounding the impact of harsh chemicals on the environment and wherever possible formulates with raw materials that minimise these effects. It is the policy of Alliance UK to comply with all UK and EC environmental legislation.
Insistence on quality and care for the environment are guiding principles in Alliance UK business strategy. Alliance UK recognizes sustainable use of natural resources and environmental protection and management as prerequisites for sustainable economic growth and the well-being of the company's employees and society.
We seek to use natural resources as sparingly as possible with due regard for the performance of our products. Minimizing the environmental impacts of our products and production processes and developing transport solutions are integral parts of our quality development and environmental protection. We aim to work in a lean, clean and safe way.
High quality, safe use and low environmental impact add value to our products and services for customers. Consistently high product quality achieved in an environmentally sound way is a key element of our operations. Our employee development programmes ensure that all our employees have the competence and commitment to secure quality and to care for the environment.
We seek to maintain a continuous dialogue on environmental and quality issues with end-users, customers and other stakeholder groups. Their views guide us in the setting and pursuit of our environmental and quality targets. We strive for greater consumer-perceived quality throughout the business chain from suppliers through to end-users
We accept responsibility for the environmental impact of our operations. Over and above meeting our legal obligations, we strive continuously to improve our operations and reduce their environmental impact by systematically developing our products, processes and work procedures. Alliance UK is committed to supporting sustainable forest management based on sound ecological science, social responsibility and economic viability.
The European Ecolabel is a voluntary scheme, established in 1992 to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment. Products and services awarded the Ecolabel carry the flower logo, allowing consumers - including public and private purchasers - to identify them easily. Today the EU Ecolabel covers a wide range of products and services, with further groups being continuously added. Product groups include cleaning products, appliances, paper products, textile and home and garden products, lubricants and services such as tourist accommodation.
While the logo may be simple, the environmental criteria behind it are tough, and only the very best products, which are kindest to the environment, are entitled to carry the EU Ecolabel.
What is more, this is a label that consumers can genuinely trust. The criteria are agreed at European level, following wide consultation with experts, and the label itself is only awarded after verification that the product meets these high environmental and performance standards.
The EU Ecolabel is a rapidly growing brand. Many producers wanting to sell their products across Europe have realised the benefits that the European Ecolabel brings. Products bearing the Flower logo can be marketed throughout the European Union and the EEA countries (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).
The voluntary nature of the scheme means that it does not create barriers to trade. On the contrary - many producers find that it gives them a competitive advantage.
Ecolabel criteria are not based on one single factor, but on studies which analyse the impact of the product or service on the environment throughout its life-cycle, starting from raw material extraction in the pre-production stage, through to production, distribution and disposal.
The flower logo helps manufacturers, retailers and service providers gain recognition for good standards, while helping purchasers to make reliable choices.
The EU Ecolabel is part of a broader action plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy adopted by the Commission on 16 July 2008.
The Nordic Environmental Label or the “Swan label” is a multinational environmental labelling scheme, which also has close co-operation with the EU ECO-label system, being a “Competent body” in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway).
The Nordic environmental label is a neutral independent label, which guarantees a certain environmental standard. Only products, which satisfy strict environmental requirements on the basis of objective assessments, are allowed to display this product label. The label helps consumers to identify the products that cause the least damage to the environment amongst those in the marked. As a result, manufacturers are stimulated to develop products and production processes better for the environment.
The criteria take into account environmental factors trough the product's life cycle from raw material, during production and distribution, during use and as refuse. It has practically proved impossible to consider the total influence on the environment by a specific product. Thus one tries to identify the environmentally most important parameters.
Nearly all Katrin and Saga products have the Nordic Environmental Swan Label.
Why use an eco-label?
- Guaranteed environmentally friendly products
- One of the many signs that Metsä Tissue is a company that takes its environmental work seriously
- Peace of mind for the end customer
- Places demands on manufacturers wishing to promote an environmental profile
The Swan Label aims:
- To limit environmental damage by promoting products that have the lowest possible impact on nature
- To make sure the Nordic eco-label criteria applies to all tissue papers
The Swan Label criteria guarantees:
- Ecologically sustainable forest management
- Resource savings
- Low environmental burden in production
- Low waste generation
- Product quality in line with product safety laws
The Swan Label requirements recommend:
- Timber from certified forests
- Use of production chemicals that consider the environment
- Less discharge of phosphorus and acidifying substances
- Lower emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxide into the air
- Low energy consumption
- Pre-separation of waste
- Quality and environmental safety
FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide.
FSC provides internationally recognized standard-setting, trademark assurance and accreditation services to companies, organizations, and communities interested in responsible forestry.
The FSC label provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as providing ongoing business value
One of the major causes of rainforest destruction and biodiversity loss in tropical zones is the illegal logging of hardwoods. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label, broadly speaking, exists to address this by promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests.
FSC accreditation certifies wood against 10 basic criteria that include the environmental, social and economic impacts of the forest industry. Biodiversity is encouraged and the legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands is recognised. Workers on FSC schemes have the right to organise.
Because the principles of the scheme are very general, loopholes can be exploited. For instance, although genetic engineering is not allowed, clear-cutting, use of chemicals (including herbicides) and preservation of old-growth forests are only addressed in a general way, without specific requirements.
Labels on FSC-certified products sometimes include a statement regarding the percentage of FSC wood in the product. However, the FSC label standards have shifted since the programme began. For example, prior to February 2000, chip and fibre products had to contain at least 70 per cent FSC-certified wood to qualify for the label. In February 2000, the minimum dropped to 30 per cent, only to be raised again in 2005 to 50 per cent. Drastic changes to standards like this can mislead consumers.
Last year, organisations from eight different countries requested the FSC withdraw certificates awarded to a number of large-scale tree plantation companies in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, South Africa, Spain and Uruguay. The organisations said the certifications violated the FSC’s mandate of promoting ‘environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests’.
The Ecologist says
A recent comparison of forestry certification programmes concluded that FSC is probably still the best of the existing labels. When buying wood products in particular, beware of cheap goods that are not meant to last. Consider also natural products that are wood-free. Best of all, buy second-hand furniture – apart from meaning no new trees need to be cut down, if the furniture has lasted a few years, it’s already proved its durability and should last a fair few more years, too.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2007
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical
As many people have been made aware from recent press releases the new EU chemicals legislation, REACH, has now come into force.
The legislation has many requirements of the chemicals industry, such as:
Registering chemicals, including information on their production (or import) volumes
Gathering toxicity data on those registered chemicals
Gathering exposure data, or estimating exposure scenarios, of those registered chemicals
Performing risk assessments on each chemical, based on the toxicity data and the exposure data
Submitting the risk assessment to the EU, along with any suggested restrictions or control measures, for assessment
Communicating those control measures to downstream users of the chemicals
This will happen in a staged process but will comfortably take around 15 – 20 years to run it’s course.
The first stage, registering chemicals, is now underway. As the costs involved are so high many manufacturers (or importers) may choose not to go through the registration process.
Once this is under way then those manufacturers (or importers) will need to know how their customers are using the chemicals so they can be sure to calculate the exposure to those chemicals correctly.
It will be some time before the first chemicals have their full toxicity and exposure packages evaluated and move onto the subsequent stage of communicating the results to their customers.
Blenders of chemicals, such as Enov, need to ensure that the chemicals we purchase are going through the registration phase (otherwise they will be withdrawn).
Enov can confirm this is taking place.
Purchasers of formulated products, such as Distributors, need to ensure that their suppliers are making adequate progress in dealing with this task. Since many chemicals are expected to be withdrawn from the market for economic reasons it is important to question key suppliers.
When exposure data is required it is not known how far down the supply chain manufacturers will need to go to determine how their chemicals are being used. This may involve Distributors or Users but is not of immediate concern.
When the data packages have been evaluated all Blenders, Distributors and Users of chemicals need to be prepared for controlling, analysing, and passing on a great deal of paperwork related to control measures. Logistically this will be difficult but is a number of years away.
REACH is a new European Community Regulation on chemicals and their safe use (EC 1907/2006). It deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. click here for more details