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Protection for streams and forests strengthened

FOR RELEASE 5pm 24 Feb 2014.

Protection for streams and forests strengthened

Phosphates and unsustainable palm oil banned

The country’s environmental labelling organisation is pulling the plug on detergents that have serious negative environmental effects.

With river and creek water degradation high in public awareness, and also the subject of recent warnings from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust says it’s time to toughen up further on products that put unnecessary chemicals literally into the waste stream.  This month they have done just that by imposing further limits on the washing, laundry and cleaning products that can bear the Environmental Choice sign.

The changes taking effect include a ban on phosphates and controlling the use of palm oil and palm kernel oil where it cannot be proven sustainable.  The standards also prohibit or limit concentrations of many chemicals, such as those used to create smells such as “lemon fresh” or musk, and brighteners used to create a “whiter than whiter” appearance.  Where terms like “natural” or “plant based’ are used, they must be explained.  All plastic packaging must be recyclable.
Another part of what might be viewed as “toughening up” is greater provision for assessors to make inspections along the supply chain where they want further assurance while assessing products as suitable to display the Environmental Choice label. 

The changes have been made after consultation with manufacturers, says Robin Taylor, general manager of Environmental Choice. “That shows there is a genuine desire to face these issues.  Not all products that presently carry or aim to carry the label will meet the new standards but producers are aware that Environmental Choice must operate at the top of technology and environmental rigour. The consumer trusts this label more than any other New Zealand ecolabel and we intend to honour that trust.  As always, the Environmental Choice symbol is only licensed for use when a product or service is scientifically proven to do what it claims, as well as being better for the environment.”

Any presently licensed general cleaning products, laundry detergents and hand dishwashing detergents that may not immediately meet the new standards are being given 12 months to shape up.


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