Tag Archives: labelling

Introducing the Eco-Scale rating system for cleaning products

Wholefoods has recently introduced its new Eco-Scale rating system, a color-coded system under which products will be rated, red, orange, yellow or green based on the sp

ecific set of environmental and sourcing standards each product meets.

The company said it is committed to working with vendors to evaluate and independently audit every product in its cleaning category.  Red-rated products do not meet the Eco-Scale standards and will not be sold at Whole Foods Market.

Naturally, the green color code is the highest possible rating, ensuring that products have all of these features:

  • ✓ Full transparency, disclosure of ingredients on packaging by April 2012
  • ✓ Independent 3rd party verified compliance to standards
  • ✓ No ingredients with significant environmental or safety concerns
  • ✓ No formaldehyde-donors, preservatives which have the potential to release formaldehyde
  • ✓ No phosphates, chlorine, or synthetic colors
  • ✓ No animal testing
  • ✓ 100% natural fragrances
  • ✓ No ingredients with moderate environmental or safety concerns
  • ✓ No DEA, MEA or TEA—surfactants that have the potential to contain nitrosamines and other impurities
  • ✓ No synthetic, petroleum-derived thickeners made from nonrenewable sources
  • ✓ Only 100% natural ingredients
  • ✓ No petroleum- derived ingredients

Under current law, manufacturers do not have to disclose all ingredients in cleaning products. Under the Eco-Scale Rating System, Whole Foods Market’s household cleaning vendors will be required to list every ingredient on product packaging. To ensure compliance of the standards, all products will be audited through an independent third-party for verification before they are color-rated and labeled on shelves.

“Shoppers have a right to know what’s actually in the products they use to clean their homes,” said Jim Speirs, global vice president of procurement for Whole Foods Market. “We’ve always carefully monitored ingredients. Now, with Eco-Scale, we’re able to help shoppers buy eco-friendly products with confidence and provide safer alternatives for their households and for the planet as a whole.”

What is striking in fact is that almost three out of four (73 percent) adults falsely believe that the U.S.  government requires household cleaning products to provide a list of ingredients on the label, according to an online survey commissioned by Whole Foods and conducted by Harris Interactive in April among 2,483 U.S. adults aged 18 and older. Another two-thirds (64 percent) believe that many household cleaning brands opt to disclose the full list of ingredients on packaging, when in fact few provide this information on product labels. (Source: GreenRetail decisions, Wholefoods)

Low-carbon products: when there will be a mass mass-market demand for them?

As stated in the last CBI report about UK consumers and low-carbon products, three quarters of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions either directly or indirectly attributable to consumer actions. Companies are taking action to drive up standards and setting up pilot initiatives for green products. Energy efficiency and carbon labels and descriptions currently adorn many of our shopping shelves, increasing transparency. But many consumers do remain skeptical about sustainability being a MUST for our future.

The report shows that there is no trade-off between sustainability and profitability but, as we are always stressing in our ECOFFEE communication projects,”(Many business leaders acknowledge that) it is not sufficient to operate in a sustainable way – they also have a responsibility to inform consumers about green choices”. Business cannot boost demand for low-carbon products without the appropriate communication. Let’s take for instance Procter & Gamble’s successful Turn to 30 campaign with Ariel linked the financial benefits to consumers of washing at lower temperatures with the positive environmental impact. This campaign successfully create a link between a product, a consumer personal behaviour and the resulting more sustainable impact on environment.
Once a company has created a demand for its green products, gains arrive very fast.

Philips’ success in energy efficient lighting is an excellent example: the strategic decision to develop the energy efficient lighting side of its business led to successful positioning
at the forefront of innovation.

Retail plays a very important role in raising awareness among consumers and empower them to make greener choices. Tesco for example has worked to highlight the carbon
footprint of its products to help consumers understand the impact of their purchasing decisions. And it worked great.

Now the question is: why there is not such a mass-market demand for green products? It seems that there is a missing link between the consumer and the environmental impact of purchasing a green product versus a not-so green one. When asked about the top three or four factors shaping their choice of purchase, UK consumers top rated one is cost to buy, followed by quality and reliability and brand. The environmental impact is ranked 10 (8%). It seems that there is a disconnection between consumers and the environmental impact of their choices, especially when carbon emissions are concerned. Nearly half (48%) of survey respondents could see the link between low-carbon and helping to tackle climate change, whereas less than a third (30%) identified the link between climate change and energy efficiency.

Labelling plays an important role in raising consumers’ awareness and A-G labelling has been a particular success, being well recognised among those aged between 35-64 (76%) and those earning over £25,000 a year (83%). It is no coincidence that products where the energy efficiency story is most developed for consumers tend to be those where the A-G label is displayed, such as fridges.

To answer to the question “When there will be a mass-market demand for green products?”, it all relies on clear communication and on educating consumers about the impact of their shopping and daily habits on the environment.