EU Modifies Lubes Ecolabel Standard


The European Union’s revised Ecolabel standard for lubricants that took into effect in early November provides new criteria to include functionality instead of composition and establishes sub-groups for lube products, according to a European Commission official.

The 2018/381/EU standard adopted by the European Commission requires lubricants to meet eight criteria to gain permission to bear the EU Ecolabel. A transition period between the existing and new standards lasts until Dec. 31, 2019, and the new criteria will remain valid until Dec. 31, 2024, according to Candela Vidal-Abarca Garrido of the European Commissions Directorate B – Growth and Innovation, who spoke at the ACI European Base Oils and Lubricants Interactive Summit held Nov. 28-29 in Florence, Italy.

Under the updated regulation, the first criterion stipulates that environmentally hazardous, mutagenic, carcinogenic or reproductively toxic may not constitute more than 0.01 percent by weight per substance or above 0.5 percent of the final product, Abarca Garrido noted.

This criterion also prohibits products with more than 0.01 percent by weight of organic halogen and nitrite compounds, metals (except sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, lithium and aluminum for grease thickening), and substances of very high concern laid out in Annex XIV of the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals regulation.

The second criterion lists additional aquatic toxicity requirements for the lubricant and its main components to determine acute and chronic toxicity to crustacean, fish and algae species, while the third and fourth criteria deal with the biodegradability and bioaccumulative potential as well as the renewable ingredient requirements for the lubricants.

The fifth, sixth and seventh criteria encompass the packaging requirements, minimal technical performance and consumer information requirements regarding use and disposal, while the eighth deals with the information appearing on the EU Ecolabel. Packaging should be made of a minimum of 25 percent recycled plastic and made with narrow openings to avoid spillage during use.

The standard has three sub-groups of products: total loss, partial loss and accidental loss lubricants. The first sub-group comprises chainsaw oils, wire rope lubricants, concrete release agents and total loss greases, while the second includes open gear oils, stern tube and two-stroke oils, lubes that provide temporary protection against corrosion and partial loss greases. The last sub-group is made up of hydraulic oils, metalworking fluids, closed gear oils and accidental loss greases.

All lubricant producers that market products in one of the EU member states can apply for the EU Ecolabel, said Abarca Garrido. In each EU members state, a nationally appointed competent body evaluates applications to award the EU Ecolabel and is available to provide technical support in the application process.

Originally adopted in 2001, the Ecolabel standard for lubricants is required to undergo periodic revisions. “This standard shows that [the product] is environmentally friendly and helps citizens to make informed choices, that it is cost effective in resources and money, and it differentiates it in the European and global market,” she explained, adding that the user manual for the revised EU Ecolabel criteria was slated to be published at the end of this year.

As of September 2018, 454 lubricant products are licensed under the EU Ecolabel. Products certified to meet its criteria are authorized to display the Ecolabel logo on the package or container, which boosts their image as environmentally friendly products.

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