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EU Issues New Eco-labeling Rules for Hazardous Chemicals in Cosmetics and Animal Care Products

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On October 26, 2021, the European Commission issued new standards for the eco-labeling of hazardous chemicals in cosmetics and animal care products, banning the use of phthalates, endocrine disruptors (EDCs) and some other categories of chemicals.

The new rules allow for the first time rinse-off animal care products (such as soaps and shampoo) to receive an eco-label and extend the scope of cosmetics to all products covered by the Cosmetics Regulation (previously only rinse-off products were covered).

Products must meet the following seven criterions to obtain an eco-label:

  1. Low impact on the aquatic environment.
  2. High standard for biodegradability.
  3. Ban to contain substances that are restricted in eco-labeled products.
  4. Complying with product packaging requirements.
  5. Sourcing palm oil in a sustainable way.
  6. High level of performance.
  7. Labels are accompanied by clear guidelines to ensure safe, effective, and efficient use.

Chemicals that are strictly prohibited in eco-labeled products include:

  1. Carcinogenic, mutagenic, reproductive toxic substances (CMR)
  2. Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs).
  3. Microplastics and microbeads.
  4. Nanomaterials.
  5. Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFASs).
  6. Substances identified or suspected of having endocrine disrupting properties.
  7. Isothiazolinones.

New eco-labeling standard of hazardous chemicals in cosmetics and animal care products

Titanium dioxide is exempt from the ban when used as a UV filter for sunscreen products.

The standard also has strict requirements for preservatives, colorants, and perfumes. Preservatives and colorants must not be allergenic and bioaccumulative, and perfumes must not be used in products labeled as "mild" or "sensitive". Under CLP regulations, substances classified as acutely toxic, organotoxic, respiratory and skin sensitizing or harmful to the aquatic environment or the ozone layer are limited to 0.01% (w/w) in rinse-off products and 0.001% in leave-on products.

For rinse-off cosmetics that have already received an eco-label, the European Commission has provided a 12-month transition period to meet the new requirements.

The new standard is valid until December 31, 2027, and will be evaluated by the Commission in 2024.