Your guide to ecolabelled production
When ABENA’s incontinence products first earned the Nordic Ecolabel back in 1999, it was the first time the coveted ecolabel was given to an incontinence product.
The Nordic Swan Ecolabel is the official Nordic Ecolabel. Today, 80% of ABENA’s incontinence products are labeled with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, and 100% of our raw materials for these products are as well.
The purpose of the Nordic Ecolabel is to reduce the overall environmental footprint each product leaves in regard to climate and health. When you choose an ecolabelled product, you help reduce environmental impact, and you can be sure that your chosen product is among the best in its category.
Obtaining the high quality required for ecolabeling requires systematic work and well-considered choices. The Nordic Ecolabel requires high levels of transparency from suppliers of raw materials and to the overall production process.
One of the strengths of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel is the independent third party inspection of raw materials and the actual production of the product. It requires that both manufacturer and supplier of raw materials are transparent in their purchase of raw materials and in their production process. This means that all of Abena’s raw material subcontractors are obligated to share otherwise classified information in regard to materials and processes and can be getting an inspection from Ecolabelling Denmark.
The independent third party inspection is an extra certainty for the consumer - and it is the greatest difference between actually being labeled with the Nordic Ecolabel and saying that your product meets the standard of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel. When a product is labeled with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, an independent third party has validated the value- and production chain.
The Nordic Swan Ecolabel sets strict requirements of chemicals used and ingredients in the product. Through third parties, the production process is audited all the way from the raw material level to ensure the quality of Nordic Swan Ecolabelled products. It is the employees of the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, who inspect the production place and the raw materials. This may include physical inspections of both manufacturers and subcontractors.
There are special requirements of the fluff pulp, which is one of the absorbing materials in the products. It must not contain optical brightener or chlorine and there are maximum values of the release of halogenated organic compounds (AOX) into water, maximum values of the release of organic compounds (measured in COD) and much more. On a yearly basis, at least 20% of the fiber raw materials must originate from certified forestry, or 75% of the fiber raw material must originate from wood chips, or a combination of the two. All our fluff pulp at ABENA Production originate from FSC-inspected forestry and is partially FSC- and PEFC-certified.
There are also strict requirements to plastic (polymers and its ingredients). Here, there is a maximum value for release of nitric oxides and sulphur during the production of PP, PE and SAP. There are maximum values for the content of residual monomers as well.
It is no easy task to obtain the correct raw materials for ecolabelled production, since many suppliers do not meet the high standards of the Nordic Ecolabel. This requires close cooperation with – and in our selection of - suppliers. Systematic and focused cooperation has been developed to ensure quality and specifications of the raw materials that we use.
The hunt for raw materials can be a challenge, since even the raw material selection from high profile suppliers does not always meet the Nordic Ecolabel requirements: “It has required that we must negotiate changes to ingredients and production methods with suppliers. In that way, we are a part of heightening the standard of how the entire industry understands the production of raw materials,” says Arne Terp-Nielsen, CEO of ABENA Produktion.
After 39 years of incontinence product production, and almost 25 years with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, knowledge about raw materials – that guarantees a Nordic Swan Ecolabelled production – is now a natural part of the production process.
“Almost 25 years of experience, and the fact that we have been part of setting the standard for the production of Nordic Ecolabel incontinence producs have made it a natural part of our quality assurance to ensure that the consumer of the product avoids harmful materials and ingredients, and that the process of production and disposal causes as little environmental impact as possible,” says Head of Product and Development, Frank B. Lundsberg.
Furthermore, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel sets strict requirements to the function of the product. In general, the product’s speed of absorption, absorption ability and dryness must match other not Nordic Swan Ecolabelled products on the market. The rule of thumb is that products branded with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel – beside being the best choice for the environment – also have to be among the best in their category.
When a product is branded with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, it is inspected in accordance with the regulations of the Nordic Ecolabel. This means that both ABENA Production and all relevant raw material suppliers have been inspected by the employees of the Nordic Ecolabel to ensure that the regulations are followed.
The Nordic Swan Ecolabel has strict requirements to ingredients, unwanted chemicals and materials. The whole lifecycle of the product, from raw material to production, use, disposal and possible recycling is a part of the evaluation, when the requirements are set for Nordic Swan Ecolabel products.
Read more about the Nordic Nordic Ecolabel and about ABENA’s approach to the Nordic Ecolabel