Navigating the product djungle
Navigating the product djungle
Regardless of if you are a consumer or a brand owner you will be faced with questions regarding ingredients, eco-labeling, packaging choices and other parameters that have an effect on your product decisions. These choices are often surrounded by words that are sometimes not clear. What does organic, ecolabelled and vegan mean? And what packaging types are best? On this page we want to contribute to clarify some of these words. Below you will find information regarding:
- Concepts and legislation
- Advantages of aerosoles
There are environmental labels within most product areas. Below we explain some of the product labels that are often seen on the nordic market. The information is gathered on each of the labels´ homepages. Please let us know if there are any labels that you are missing!
The Nordic Ecolabel (Swan)
In the Nordic Ecolabel (Swan) Criterias, demands are made on f.eg product contents and use of environmentally hazardous chemichals, emissions to air, water and soil, the use of energy and resources and how waste is handled. The Nordic Ecolabel also places demands on high quality and function. The demands are processed together with experts from the buisness sector, environmental organizations and authorities. Today, almost 200 different products or services can be labeled with the Nordic Ecolabel. Thousands of products, ranging from detergets and candles to hotels and restaurants, are labelled with the Nordic Ecolabel. There are currently around 1100 licenses and more than 10 000 Nordic Ecolabelled products in Sweden (2014). Read more at www.svanen.se
Fairtrade helps growers and employees to, with their own power, improve their working and living conditions. Fairtrade is an independent certification with the aim of working against poverty and strengthening peoples influence and power of action – with the purpose of creating change and development. The requierments are based on international Fairtrade criteria for economic, social and environmental sustainable development. Fairtrade has previously been known for food products, but today skin care and cosmetic products can also be Fairtrade labeled. Read more about Fairtrade at https://www.fairtrade.net/
The Asthma and allergy association
The Association's recommendation of products should be seen as a guide to the consumer in the search for products that are good from an allergy point of view. The Svalan-labeled products are labeled with the name and brand of the association. The products are free from perfume substances and do not contain allergens or irritants in such quantities that there are any known, medical reported cases. Read more at www.astmaochallergiforbundet.se
Basta & Beta
BASTA is a scientifically based system for the purpose of phasing out particularly dangerous substances from construction products. In BASTA's register one can search for construction products that meet highly put demands on chemical content. Products marked BASTA are able to meet the system's highest requirements regarding phase-out substances and risk-reducing substances. Products marked with BETA can handle the system's basic requirements regarding substances that are being phased out. All products marked with BASTA or BETA meet the requirements for chemical content in "Miljöbyggnad" (envirnomental building). Read more at www.bastaonline.se
ECOCERT is an organization for certification of natural and organic skin care and cosmetics. In order for a skin care product to carry ECOCERT's logo type, it is essential that the following criteria are met:
- That the content consists at least 95% natural ingredients.
- That at least 10% of the content comes from organic crops.
- The product contains no genetically modified substances, parabens, phenoxy ethanol, or ingredients derived from petrochemical or synthetic chemistry.
- The products have not been tested on animals.
- That the packaging is biodegradable.
- That the label and content must be transparent to consumers
Read more at http://www.ecocert.com/en
In 1992, the European Commission decided to launch a common European eco-label. Just as the Nordic countries had agreed on an official eco-label, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, the EU have agreed on a common European eco-label. The EU Flower (or EU Ecolabel, as it is also called) is the EU official eco-label, decided by the EU Commission. In Sweden, Miljömärkning Sverige AB is responsible for the Criterion Development of the Nordic Swan and EU Flower, which carries out checks and issues licenses.
Today there are criteria for the EU Flower for about 30 types of products and services. These include cleaning products, soaps, schampos, machine wash detergent, dishwashers, heat pumps, televisions, refrigerators, computers, light bulbs, detergents, vacuum cleaner, shoes, textiles, camping sites, paper products, mattresses, wooden furniture, floors and lubricants.
Read more here: www.ecolabel.eu
Concepts and legislation
Today there are many different concepts used in the marketing of products and its ingredients. As a consumer, we also place high demands on the products we buy and expect them to live up to our expectations. But what does it mean when a product is vegan? And did you know that no cosmetic products produced in Europe can be tested on animals by law? At the same time, there is no legislation regarding how much of the ingredients in an organic product should be organic. We hope to help in shedding som light on some of the terms here!
Cosmetic products and animal testing / Cruelty Free
Many consumers inquire about products that have not been tested on animals, also known as cruelty free products. In the European Union it has been forbidden by law for companies producing and developing cosmetic products to test their products on animals since 2004. Since 2013 there is a total and complete ban on all animal testing, both for testing the products and its ingredients. The reason this is not prominent in cosmetic marketing is simply because it is a question of following the law. At Paragon Nordic we of course follow the law and all products developed and produced by us are, as they say, cruelty free!
Vegan cosmetic products
Vegan products are products that do not contain ingredients from animals. No parts of animals or substances produced by animals are allowed, examples of this is f.eg beeswax or honey. Vegan Society is an example of an organization that offers labels for vegan products. Read more about them here: https://www.vegansociety.com/ If you're unsure if your product is vegan, look at the product's ingredients! If you want to know more about a products content, please contact the company that sells the product!
Organic products and ingredients
Today, products are often organic or have organic extracts. An ingredient called organic must be cultivated, so water can never become organic. In addition, the ingredient must come from a controlled crop that does not allow pesticides. It is also important that the origin of the ingredient can be verified. There are currently no regulations in Europe that state what or how much of an organic raw material an organic product should contain.
However, there are several labels that certify organic products. The labels have different requirements when it comes to how much of the content should be organic, it however usually requieres them to contains more than 85% organic raw materials. Some examples of such certifications are: SOIL ASSOCIATION, USDA, NATRUE, ECO GARANTIE, ECO CONTROL, NPA.
Natural products and extracts
The word ‘Natural’ is wider than organic, it includes all substances coming from nature. Thus, water, plant oils and clay can also be included. A natural raw material can thus be a mixture of cultivated and natural ingredients, it is not per definition "worse" than an organic but since its origin can not always be verified, it falls into another category.
A natural raw material is processed as little as possible and if it is a sustainable ingredient, it is grown without chemical pesticides and manure. They are therefore said to retain their natural antioxidants, vitamins and fatty acids.
A paraben is a preservative used in beauty products to extend its durability. There are many different types of parabens, and some of these have been shown to have a hormone disturbing effect in studies. Many companies and brands therefore choose to use parabens that don’t have these effects or other types of substances.
The Swedish Chemichals Agency Guide PRIO provides examples of hazardous substances, but is primarily intended to provide knowledge of how you can carry out assessments of which chemical substances are acceptable from a health and environmental point of view.
In the choice of product, packaging is also an important component from a sustainability perspective. Today, we are actively working to find packaging types that minimize the amount of packaging per product, recyclable materials and materials that can facilitate the product’s durability. Paragon Nordic works with all types of packaging materials, but as we are the largest aerosol manufacturer in Sweden and have unique expertice in this area on the Scandinavian market, we will here review the benefits of the aerosol packaging alternative.
After freon was banned in Sweden in 1979, the propellants that are used in aerosols are not harmful to the ozone layer. Green DME can also be used as an aerosol propellant, this is a propellant produced from renewable raw materials.
The aerosol is a sealed packaging format that prevents spill and external impact. It therefore has no need for preservatives and maintains hygiene levels when used as bacteria and dirt can not enter the product.
Efficiency in use
The aerosol ensures the correct dosage during use. Unlike other packaging options, the product can also be used until it's completely empty and therefore minimizes waste. Moreover, the product does not age, and can therefore more easily be used until its empty due to longer shelf life.
The packaging is fully recyclable.
The packaging is the application tool - no brushes, rags, sponges etc. are needed. This minimizes hazardous waste such as materials, laundry liquids etc..
Products distributed in an aerosol package also have the advantage of needing less product per dose of product than other packaging options, resulting in a longer usage period and less waste.