Biodegradeability of surfactants
Surfactants are used in large amounts in cosmetic products and many surfactants are toxic to aquatic organisms. It is therefore relevant to avoid accumulation of them in the environment. Many surfactants are degradeable under aerobic conditions (with oxygen). This requirement also require the surfactants to be degradeable under anaerobic condition (without oxygen).
- Technical specification
- Cosmetic products
Surfactants in the products shall be readily biodegradable (aerobic) according to OECD's guidelines test methods 301(A to F) or 310 or similar test methods and anaerobically biodegradable according to OECD's guidelines test method 311 or similar test methods.
Exemptions from anaerobic biodegradation:
- Emulsifiers and emollients
- Surfactants in toothpaste
The supplier shall, upon request, be able to present any of for example the following:
- Valid license for any of for example the following labels:
Good Environmental Choice criteria for cosmetic products, version 2018:1
Nordic Ecolabelling for cosmetic products, version 3
EU Ecolabel for cosmetic products, (EU) 2021/1870 (only rinse-off products).
Reference to the surfactants DID-numbers on the EU Ecolabel DID-list, part A+B 2016 or later (Deteregent Ingredient Database) for all ingoing surfacntats, showing that the surfactants are aerobically and anaerobically biodegradable.
Raw material supplier's safety data sheets for all ingoing surfactants in the product showing that the surfactants are readily biodegradable and a complimentary test report showing that the surfactants are anaerobically biodegradeable according to the test methods in the requirement.
Test reports showing that the surfactants are readily biodegradeble and anaerobically biodegradeable according to the test methods described in the requirement.
- The csupplier’s self-declaration including technical documentation of compliance verified by an accredited verification body, accredited for the task in accordance with ISO/IEC 17029 or equivalent standard.
If the requirement is verified with a label, check that there is a valid license for the product in question. This can be controlled here: Nordic Ecolabelling (Nordic Swan), Good Environmental Choice, EU Ecolabel.
EU Ecolabel's DID-list
If the requiement has been verified with the EU Ecolabel's DID-list ask the supplier to indicate what DID-number each surfactant has. Check that the surfactant is both aerobically and anaerobically biodegradeable in the DID-list. In the column for aerobically degradeability there should be and 'R' (=readily biodegradeable) and in the column for anaerobically degradeability there should be a 'Y' (=Yes it is anaerobically degradeable).
Safety Data Sheets and test report
The requirement on readily biodegradeability (aerobic) can be verified by material safety data sheets for the ingoing surfactants in the products. See material safety datasheet section "12 Ecological information". In this section it may be stated that this surfactant is readily biodegradable.
To check anaerobic degradation a test report is needed. The test report shall have been based on the test methods in the requirement and have results showing that the surfactant is anaerobically biodegradable.
Self-declaration verified by an accredited verification body
If a verified self-declaration is used to prove that the requirement is fulfilled, request the supplier’s self-declaration, including documentation showing that the requirement is met. The self-declaration shall be verified by a verification body accredited for the task in accordance with ISO / IEC 17029 or equivalent standard.
Information about the criterion
There are currently a limited number of accredited verification bodies for ISO/IEC 17029 (Conformity assessment - General principles and requirements for validation and verification bodies) as it is a relatively new standard. This may change, especially if the demand for verifying compliance in this way increases. More information about the standard and accredited verification bodies can be found on Swedac's website.
The version date indicates when the sustainability criterion was created or last updated. Last reviewed dated tells when we last checked that the sustainability criterion still is relevant.
- Current ID
- Version date