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European restrooms are getting greener

From producing a curtain rod that never rusts in 1908, to certification of a number of soaps with the EU Ecolabel in 2014, Newell Rubbermaid is a company that emphasises innovation. The soaps that are certified can be found in any restroom in ‘high traffic’ buildings, such as airports, offices, hotels, restaurants or hospitals.

For Newell Rubbermaid, a global marketer of consumer and commercial products with a strong portfolio of leading brands, certification of these products is part of their sustainability policy. “Our approach to sustainability is put into a 360-degree model,” says Nicoletta Pagani, Senior EMEA Brand and Product Manager of the company. “In this circle, we interact with employees, consumers, customers, suppliers and communities to develop our policies on different levels: Governance and Management, Operations and Supply Chain and Products and Packaging.”

Ask for proof
Certification of the soaps took place in the Netherlands, because the Washroom Newell Rubbermaid Center of Excellence is based in the Dutch town of Hillegom. “We sell our products worldwide,” continues Pagani. “My responsibility is the EMEA [Europe, Middle East & Africa], and thus the member states of the European Union, too. We decided to apply for certification with the EU Ecolabel for a number of reasons. First of all, certification fits in with our strategy to get greener. It also serves the needs of our customers. More and more of the big players ask for proof of their producers’ claims of working in a more environmentally friendly way. And we want to anticipate changes in legislation and public opinion. With the EU Ecolabel, you are a big step ahead of ordinary products. In that way, you have more certainty of avoiding ingredients that could be controversial in the future, as they are not used any more in our products. The reason why we chose the EU Ecolabel is because in the European Union, this label is well-recognised and trusted by our customers. There is a lot of talk about sustainability, but with this label you can prove that this product is a better choice from an environmental point of view.”

For these certifications, Newell Rubbermaid had to look at the formulations of the products. “We formulated the products according to the EU Ecolabel standards, while making no concessions to the quality and efficiency of the products,” Pagani explains. “Furthermore, we had to make changes in the packaging of the products to meet the standards.” Newell Rubbermaid expects a more positive image in the market as a result of having the EU Ecolabel. Pagani says, “It depends on the maturity of the market whether it will also have a positive influence on sales. In some markets there is an even stronger focus on the price per litre, while in other markets the proof of being more environmentally friendly is more important.”

Satisfied with process
Pagani is satisfied with the certification process at the competent body SMK, but she still has some worries about future developments of the criteria of the EU Ecolabel. “I would say that it’s very important that the competent bodies of the EU Ecolabel are in close contact with the decision-making units in the European Union. In that way, certificate owners can be sure of the efficacy of their efforts for a longer period. The discussion on the use of biocides, for instance, is still ongoing and a clear policy still hasn’t been defined. The more certainty we have on these matters, the better.”

With the EU Ecolabel, you are a big step ahead of ordinary products
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