GECA launches its ‘environmental standard’ certification for labelling of personal care products

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th June 2013

Consumers’ concerns about the use of palm oil, “toxic” chemicals and “greenwashing” in personal care products like shampoos and cosmetics have led to the release of a new voluntary set of standards for ‘environmentally preferrable’ goods and services from certification body Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA).

GECA told Australian Food News that the labelling standard does not apply to food products, and that the organisation currently has no plans to move into the food sector. The standard will cover toiletry and personal care products such as soaps, shampoos, oral hygiene products, skin care, cosmetics and deodorants.

“Greater awareness has resulted in more consumers questioning what goes into our personal care products,” said Rupert Posner, GECA CEO. “For example, there is increased knowledge of the extensive use of palm oil in many products and that while it is a cheap and practical product for manufacturers, its use can have a significant environmental impact,” he said.

GECA said the new environmental standard will address these and “other sustainability issues”. The standard has been developed following extensive consultation and released following a period for public comment.

“This new standard will enable consumers to have confidence that the personal care products they buy have addressed important health, environmental and sustainability issues. It saves them having to scrutinise a product for a range of issues they may be concerned about,” Mr Posner said.

GECA said certification against the new standard would also make it easier for manufacturers to know they can “market the environmental benefits of their products with confidence”.

According to GECA, the new standard includes criteria to:

  • Advance the use of sustainable palm oil
  • Limit volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Ban hazardous substances such as carcinogens, nanoparticles and sensitisers
  • Ensure environmental claims are verified and clear to “discourage greenwashing”
  • Address waste minimisation during the products manufacture, as well as promote more “environmentally friendly” packaging

“There is no reason why consumers can’t have products that meet their personal care needs and are less toxic to them and kinder on the environment. GECA certified products achieve this,” Mr Posner said. “If your favourite product doesn’t have the GECA tick, then ask the retailer or manufacturer to get it certified,” he said.

GECA said its “lifecycle based ecolabel” or ‘GECA tick’ was established to encourage the development of sustainable goods and services and that more than 2,000 products are certified. GECA’s ‘ecolabelling’ program is built on ISO 14024 principles, offering global best practice in product certification.