News /

A Soap Company Stands up for Standards

Posted 26 November 2007 by Jacob Malthouse to Ecolabel News.

According to an article in talking retail Ecover, a global manufacturer of eco-friendly cleaning products, has called for common standards for ecolabels as they expand across Europe. The company has been enjoying twenty percent annual growth in dish-soap, its most popular product.

Their marketing director, Clare Allman, says the European Eco-Label just confuses the issue further: “The European Eco-Label in the UK allows phosphates but the European standard in France, Germany and Belgium doesn’t. Consumers are looking for our help, and this issue could mean they lose trust in the whole eco-sector.”

It’s an ongoing problem in the labelling industry, how do you provide baseline assurance without stifling innovation? Graded labeling is one option, but it needs to be done carefully and without throwing away baselines. Whatever happens it needs to happen quick, before a label that was meant to help an industry begins to harm it.Given that “Quick” and “European Union” tends to be an oxymoron, I’m starting to wonder of government labels are the best option for a booming industry. On the other hand I don’t exactly trust industry self-regulation and the labels it would produce either. I wonder, for example, what Ecover’s position will be at the dish soap bigwig’s get-together next February?

Public private partnerships like those advocated by ISEAL and other established labels might provide the balance of speed and credibility. The challenge is developing the right model. Perhaps some of the dish soap boys need to take a course or two before they set down to label making.