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Award of the EU Ecolabel for Bed Mattresses and Rinse-off Cosmetics Extended for Renewed Period

Mattresses: On 23 October 2018, the Official Journal published Commission Decision 2018/1590. This new Decision notes that the validity of the ecological criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for bed mattresses expired on 23 June 2018, but is henceforth renewed until 28 July 2022. The related assessment and verification requirements, which are likewise renewed, are set out in previous Commission Decision 2014/391/EU.

The product group “bed mattresses” excludes wooden and upholstered bed bases, inflatable mattresses and water mattresses from its product scope. The criteria for awarding the EU Ecolabel to “bed mattresses”, as well as the related assessment and verification requirements, are set out in the Annex to the 2014 Decision. Hong Kong companies exporting this product to the EU should be aware that the Ecolabel criteria, assessment and verification requirements differ according to the nature of the mattresses.

Thus, for example, with regard to latex foam mattresses (i.e. those for which latex foam contributes to more than 5% of the mattresses’ total weight), applicants for the EU Ecolabel must ensure that restricted substances do not exceed the values set out in the Annex. Such substances include chlorophenols (e.g. mono- and di-chlorinated phenols), heavy metals (e.g. arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead and mercury), pesticides (e.g. aldrin and dieldrin) and butadiene.

As regards polyurethane foam mattresses (i.e. those for which polyurethane foam contributes to more than 5% of the mattresses’ total weight), applicants for the EU Ecolabel must respect the limited values set out in the Annex for restricted substances which include heavy metals, plasticisers (e.g. some phthalates), inorganic substances (e.g. tributyltin, dibutyltin and monobutyltin) and other specific restricted substances such as chlorinated or brominated dioxins or furans, chlorinated hydrocarbons, chlorinated phenols and nitrites.

For textile mattresses (i.e. fabrics and fibres used as a mattress cover and/or filling materials), applicants must respect the provisions laid out in the Annex. These relate to, among others, bleaching of pulp, yarns, fabrics and end products; dyes; extractable metals; water, stain and oil repellents; and durability of flame retardant function.

Hong Kong traders should also take into account that for all bed mattresses, the Annex sets out restrictions on the use of (among other chemicals) glues, adhesives, flame retardants, biocides and plasticisers.

The new Decision, published on 23 October 2018, states that, in order to increase the uptake of EU ecolabelling for bed mattresses, considerations will be given to merging this product group with the “furniture” product group. As a first step, however, the validity period of the current criteria for bed mattresses will be aligned with the one of furniture, i.e., until 28 July 2022.

Rinse-off cosmetics: New Commission Decision 2018/1590 states that the validity of the ecological criteria for the award of the EU Ecolabel for rinse-off cosmetic products, which is currently set out in Commission Decision 2014/893/EU, expires on 9 December 2018. Their validity, as well as the related assessment and verification requirements, will henceforth be valid until 31 December 2021.

Hong Kong’s cosmetics manufacturers should bear in mind that the product group ‘rinse-off cosmetic products’ comprises any rinse-off substance or mixture falling under the scope of EU Regulation 1223/2009 on the safety of cosmetic products, intended to be placed in contact with the epidermis and/or the hair system with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them (toilet soaps, shower preparations, shampoos), to improve the condition of the hair (hair-conditioning products) or to protect the epidermis and lubricate the hair before shaving (shaving products). While the product group ‘rinse-off cosmetic products’ includes products for both private and professional use, it does not cover products that are specifically marketed for disinfecting or anti-bacterial use. That said, anti-dandruff shampoos are allowed.

The Annex to the 2014 Decision sets out the exact criteria for awarding the EU Ecolabel, which is based on seven different factors: toxicity to aquatic organisms; biodegradability; excluded or limited substances or mixtures; packaging; sustainable sourcing of palm oil, palm kernel oil and their derivatives; fitness for use; and information appearing on the EU Ecolabel.

The first criterion, the toxicity to aquatic organisms, is assessed by Critical Dilution Volume (CDV). The CDV toxicity levels are different for each sub-group of the rinse-off products; the maximum levels and the calculation method for CDV are provided in Table 1 of the Annex.

Furthermore, the criterion for excluded or limited substances and mixtures are divided between: a) specified excluded ingoing substances and mixtures; b) hazardous substances and mixtures; and c) derogated substances. For instance, substances that must be excluded in order to obtain the EU Ecolabel include alkyl phenol ethoxylates, boric acid, borates and perborates, preservatives such as triclosan and parabens, micro-plastics and nanosilver. The detailed list of all excluded or limited substances is provided within the Annex.

As for the criteria for packaging, no additional packaging for the product as it is sold, e.g. carton over a bottle, is allowed, with the exception of secondary packaging which groups two or more products together (e.g. the product and refill).

For further details on the applicable criteria for both bed mattresses and rinse-off cosmetics, Hong Kong manufacturers should examine the respective Commission Decisions from 2014.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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