UMass Lowell Toxics Use Reduction Institute Helps First North American Company Win European Eco-Label for Cleaning Product

09/13/2004
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

LOWELL - The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell has helped a cleaning supply company be awarded the first European Union Eco-label in North America.

            TURI's Surface Solutions Laboratory, under the direction of Carole LeBlanc, provided the technical assessment necessary for Cogent Environmental Solutions of Caledon, Ontario, Canada, to receive the European Eco-label for an all-purpose cleaner.  The voluntary label is designed to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment and help European consumers - both public and private purchasers - to easily identify them.   

The Eco-label license allows Cogent to use the official Flower logo on its Ecogent General Purpose Cleaner (exclusively manufactured by Chemspec of Baltimore, Maryland, USA) to promote the product to more than 375 million consumers in the European Union.

"The Eco-label provides companies an easy way for their products to be identified as environmentally friendly by consumers which gives them a unique advantage over other products," said LeBlanc, TURI's laboratory director.

In applying for the license, Cogent sought the expertise of LeBlanc, based on previous work performed for the firm. 

"Since Dr. LeBlanc spearheaded the effort to include performance testing of products like ours for the Massachusetts Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP) Procurement Program, it made perfect sense that she would be able to help us on a global scale," said Michael Rochon, Cogent principal and the product's patent owner.

LeBlanc assessed the ingredients of the Ecogent General Purpose Cleaner for compliance with the European Commission's 2001 published ecological criteria for all-purpose cleaners, before the company applied to Europe for the label.  The Eco-label award gives official recognition that the product meets a high level of biodegradability and minimizes its impact on aquatic life - and, of course, cleans well.  Cogent's cleaning product already carries the U. S. Green Seal and the Canadian Environmental Choice award.  

Part of TURI's mission is to test and find alternatives to toxic chemicals on behalf of Massachusetts companies.  The Institute also provides technical assistance in helping companies like Cogent in efforts to access new markets for toxic-free products.

 "We congratulate Cogent on being the first North American company to obtain the label" said Charles Cox, a representative of the European awarding body.  "We hope it will encourage many other North American companies to apply."

The European Eco-label scheme covers a diverse range of 21 product groups, including  textiles, paints and washing machines, and is expanding into services such as tourist accommodation.  Nearly 200 licenses have been issued to date. 

For more information about:  the UMass Lowell Toxics Use Reduction Institute, visit www.turi.org or call Carole LeBlanc at 978-934-3249; Cogent Environmental Solutions, visit www.ecogent.ca; or European Union's Eco-label, visit www.europa.eu.int/comm/environment/ecolabel/index_en.htm.