by Peter Malaise
Since a few months the website EcoBioControl www.ecobiocontrol.bio can be consulted free of charge by anyone looking for non-commercial, technically correct and more in-depth information about all ingredients that populate our non-food products for daily use, such as cosmetics, detergents and the likes. EcoBioControl documents approximately 17.000 different molecules, both raw materials and derived products. Except for cosmetics, there is only a limited or no reporting obligation for this kind of consumer goods, and the declarations on labels and documentation are often vague, incomplete and insignificant. The declarations have been drawn up in a legally prescribed code that is called INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) and that indeed comes from the world of cosmetics.
Those looking for more interpretation about raw materials used, their origins, the processes they underwent and their impact on health and the environment, are usually ending up nowhere. Often one only finds fragmentary information, and the impact on health and the environment is usually unrelated.
Approximately 143 million unique organic and inorganic substances are currently registered at the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), in addition to 67 million different protein and DNA sequences (who again said things should be simple?). Every day an average of 15.000 substances are added.
It is obviously impossible to give all these substances a place in something like the INCI code. That is why every INCI name is usually shared by a whole series of substances, which of course does not increase transparency. EcoBioControl wants to meet that. Substances that are most prevalent in products of daily use are extensively documented in the EcoBioControl database: CAS number, EINECS number, chemical identification, function, legal restrictions. Each of the approximately 17.000 substances in the database also receives a health and environmental assessment that is calculated in the background on the basis of a self-developed algorithm. This assessment – which of course is based on scientific criteria – is presented in the form of a ‘traffic light’: red-amber-green, with the possibility of double red and double green.
The evaluation of substances is presented in a simplified way, but is not that simple at all. The known dates of all substances included in the database serve as a basis for calculation in order to assess their acceptability in terms of origin, chemical processing, health and the environment. In addition to single substances, complete formulas with multiple raw materials can also be assessed on their global quality. Then the potentially negative combination of certain substances is integrated in the calculations.
Furthermore, EcoBioControl can be asked to include substances that are not yet in the database. This requires some research and takes time, but it is free of charge for the applicant.
The EcoBioControl database can be consulted not only free of charge and without restrictions, but also without any registration of personal data. Moreover, it is accessible on all media: on PC, laptop and tablet as well as on smartphones, and this on all platforms. It is therefore perfectly possible to trace a substance or a complete formula during shopping.
Sustainable and functional
EcoBioControl wants to stimulate the use of sustainable raw materials and the creation of formulas that aim for a top-rated sustainable profile, with a minimum of fossil sources and non-sustainable chemistry, and with a proven effectiveness. Companies that recognize their product profiles in such an approach can, after evaluation and approval, announce these products as ‘approved by EcoBioControl’. They pay a modest contribution, but there is an important difference with the usual label contributions: the better the product scores, the less the company pays. If there is nothing to complain about (double-green light) then no contribution is due. That is the social aspect of the EcoBioControl approach, that quality is once again rewarded for the benefit of everyone, also in a financial sense. No existing label offers something similar at the moment.
The website of EcoBioControl is currently (September 2018) predominantly in Italian and a small part in English, but that will change rapidly in the following weeks and months.