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Ecolabel – the “Blue Angel” for International Business

The days when products needed to be cheap above all else are over. Consumers today are primarily concerned with sustainability. In order to prompt trust in their own products, more and more companies are having them certified. FUCHS LUBRITECH recently received the EU Ecolabel for its release agents and greases. But what does a label like this mean for the company?

The EU Ecolabel is similar to the German "Blue Angel" environmental seal. Introduced in Germany in 1978, the environmental label has since helped to identify sustainable developments and alternatives where conventional products are harmful to the environment, for example in supermarkets or furniture stores. The EU Ecolabel is not yet as familiar to end users as the Blue Angel, yet it serves the same purpose. In Europe, numerous labels and certificates have existed for decades. However, countries often had their own labels which were only recognized nationally. In the course of the "Europeanization" and globalization of the economy and as a result of an EU directive from 1992, an EU-wide environmental label was conceived that is now officially recognized in all EU member states as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Turkey.

Products used around the world

"The good thing for us is that the Ecolabel is also recognized internationally in many places," explains Dr. Marion Schaer, Head of Product Safety Management at FUCHS LUBRITECH. This is key, as the certified products from FUCHS LUBRITECH are used the world over. Take a look at rope lubricants, for example: One of their applications is producing ropes for the shipping industry. "There are American ports that only allow ships to dock that can provide proof of their environmental sustainability in this area," says the expert Dr. Schaer. "The good thing is, the Americans recognize the Ecolabel." 

“The good thing for us is that the Ecolabel is also recognized internationally in many places.”

- Dr. Marion Schaer, Head of Product Safety Management at FUCHS LUBRITECH

The Ecolabel is certified for specific products and services, not for whole companies. Firms that have received the Ecolabel for individual products or product lines may hold it for two years and use it in advertising – so that customers are able to identify environmentally friendly and healthy products. "At FUCHS LUBRITECH, we decided around ten years ago that we wanted to take the sustainable route with our products," says Dr. Schaer. With this in mind, FUCHS LUBRITECH approached the national office responsible for certification, which is RAL gGmbH in Germany. The lubricant experts made their application, providing proof that the criteria were met in the product groups of release agents and greases. Following inspection by RAL gGmbH, the certification office concluded a contract with FUCHS LUBRITECH on the use of the EU Ecolabel. The criteria included whether there was a market for the products to be certified, how they are used – and of course how environmentally friendly the material combination is.

“There are ports that only allow ships to dock that can provide proof of their environmental sustainability.”

- Dr. Marion Schaer, Head of Product Safety Management at FUCHS LUBRITECH

Ecolabel for numerous sectors

Generally, companies from completely different sectors can register for Ecolabel certification. These range from cleaning products to textiles, inks and varnishes to accommodation providers and campsites. Excluded products to date are foodstuffs, beverages, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.  

For a lubricant producer like FUCHS LUBRITECH, however, having certain product ranges certified is of prime importance in today‘s markets. After all, it‘s not just rope manufacturers who have raised the bar for their suppliers. This trend is evident in all sectors – such as the construction industry, for instance. Whereas in the 20th century it was all about price and performance when it came to a product‘s selling points, the situation has now made a complete turnaround. Instead, the credo of the 21st century is that everything that a company does must always be as good for the environment as possible. For customers from the construction industry, FUCHS LUBRITECH is leading the way with form oils. These high-grade asphalt and concrete release agents are used by construction companies worldwide in structural and civil engineering as well as in prefabricated part factories. The Ecolabel-certified product range from FUCHS LUBRITECH guarantees that it is not harmful to either ground water, plants or animals, or to the workers who come into contact with the oils.

“We want to certify even more products.”

- Dr. Marion Schaer, Head of Product Safety Management at FUCHS LUBRITECH

In the sustainability initiative run by the German lubricant industry (NaSch), parent company FUCHS PETROLUB is currently leading the field. FUCHS LUBRITECH also has further certificates in its portfolio in addition to the Ecolabel, including labels for unproblematic use of drinking water and for non-hazardous contact with foodstuffs. "The Ecolabel is a great fit for us, as we take sustainability seriously throughout the company," says Dr. Schaer. As the EU directives for stipulating environmental criteria change regularly, FUCHS LUBRITECH is always prepared to take its products for testing. For lubricant expert Dr. Schaer, this is also vital for FUCHS LUBRITECH's path in the future: "We want to certify even more products from our portfolio."

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